It's been a while since Rex Morland had his picture in the local paper. He remembers it well. It was in November 1981, when he and others lined up to have their photo taken at the opening of the town's Carters branch.
Now he's done it again, 40 years later, as he embarks upon retirement.
He had only come to Kaitaia for two years, he said last week, but had stayed for four decades. And he was the last of the Carters 'originals' to call it a day.
Born and bred in Rotorua, he had moved to Ōhaeawai with his farming parents as a child in 1969, enrolling at Kaikohe Intermediate School and Northland College. He had stayed in the North ever since, starting his working life at a small hardware store in Whangārei.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
He met is wife to be, Irene, at Paradise Bay, where his sister Agnes and her farming husband Colin Foster owned land, on New Year's Eve, 1980, and arrived in Kaitaia the following year, having got the job of running Carters' warehouse. He continued in that role for many years, apart from a stint as the truck driver, and ended his career there as a customer services rep, with a comfortable chair out the front and, on Thursday, a computer that had crashed.
The seed for retirement had been sown during last year's Covid-19 lockdown, he said. He had gradually come to the view that there might be a better way of spending his time than working five days a week, and on Friday that became official, with a retirement do at the Awanui Hotel.
The future wasn't going to be all housework, making Irene's lunch before she set off to work at the local police station and reminiscing about the 20 years he spent working, on top of his day job, as a jailer though. He had a couple of part-time jobs, a couple of days a week, lined up, and there were three grandchildren - four in a few weeks, five in November - in Perth and Kaitaia to enjoy.
Perth, he said, would be their first destination once travel restrictions and other circumstances allowed.
Meanwhile he had absolutely no regrets about overstaying in Kaitaia for 38 years.
"It's a nice little town," he said.
"I've been very happy here."