With a combined total of 80 years of service to their community, Doug and Joanne Robinson are due some well-earned rest in their retirement.

The couple doesn't plan to sit back and do nothing.

In December last year Doug retired from his teaching role at St Joseph's Stratford, where he was also a deputy principal for many years, and Joanne retired from her hospice nursing role.

While the couple have started the new year with plans to relax and enjoy time with family and friends, both agree they won't be sitting around for long.

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Doug says he will continue working as a reading recovery teacher and do some relief teaching when needed, while Joanne also has plans to stay involved in the field of nursing.
Doug is also a Justice of the Peace and so will also give his time as a JP and a wedding and funeral celebrant.

"I've been doing some further study on professional supervision so am hoping to offer professional support to staff in rest homes possibly."

The couple, who met while at Stratford High School, began dating in the 6th form before they both headed to Palmerston North to train in their chosen professions.

Neither of them had originally planned to work in the professions they ended up training in.

Doug says he had wanted to be a jeweller but his father wasn't keen.

"He had been at university at the time of the Depression in New Zealand, and had had to give up his degree. So to him, getting a degree was important. He wanted the best for us, and didn't think me training as a jeweller was the best."

While he mightn't have wanted to be a teacher at the start, Doug says he soon discovered he had a real passion for teaching, and doesn't regret taking his father's advice all those years ago.

"Oh, Dad was right, no question about that at all. I've never regretted being a teacher."
Joanne says she originally planned to train as a journalist or a translator, but when she took a part time job at the Stratford maternity hospital while at the high school, that changed.

"There's no other way to describe it than I felt God called to me to be a nurse. I thought well, there's no harm in trying, and so I applied for nursing college."

The couple married in April 1974, when Joanne was in her final year of nursing training and Doug had taken his first teaching job, at North Street School in Feilding. Once Joanne had qualified, she worked while Doug went back to university to finish his bachelor of education degree.

"In those days it wasn't all that common to do a degree with your teacher training, but it was something I really enjoyed."

After teaching and nursing for a few years the couple started their family with their first son, Caleb.

Soon after they found themselves answering a new calling - to go to live in Papua New Guinea with Doug working as a teacher and Joanne running literacy classes for the women.

The couple were there for a total of 10 years, with their other two sons, Jared and Nathan, born there.

Doug says living in Papua New Guinea was an incredible experience, describing it as truly being a place like no where else.

The family all learned to speak Tok Pisin, or Pidgin, with Doug teaching his classes and writing in it.

"The boys were all fluent speakers too," says Joanne.

The family returned to New Zealand when it was time for Caleb to start his secondary education at the same high school his parents had gone too in Stratford.

"We were parents first so we always put the children's education and needs at the front of our decisions and choices, which in this case meant it was time for us all to move back to New Zealand," says Doug.

The couple continued their focus on family and passion for their jobs over the next few decades and say neither of them have ever regretted the career paths they chose.

Both have seen many changes through the years in their professions, with Joanne saying nursing is now a lot more patient-focused than previously.

"Which is a really good thing. It is a more holistic approach now which has great results."

There is also more of a focus on continuing education throughout your nursing career she says, something Doug says is also the case in teaching.

"Even last year, I still would have my lessons observed at times, and it's important to always be learning, to always striving to do your best."