Robin and Theo Straker worked together, and sang together, long before they were married.

The Waihi couple celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary last week. They had met and married in London.

Robin was born in New Malden, Surrey in 1931. Theo was born in Neuwerk, Germany in 1932.

Theo's family escaped from Germany in 1938 - her father Alfred was Jewish - and went to England. During World War II, both Theo and Robin were among thousands of English children who were evacuated from their homes to places considered safer.


Both were working at the same London John Lewis store in 1951 — Theo in the jewellery buying office and Robin in retail.

A promising opera singer, Theo had plans to make a career of it but was too young to join an opera society, so she worked instead.

Theo joined the firm's opera society to play the lead Polly Peacham in ballad opera satire The Beggar's Opera. Robin was roped in too as the production was low on males.

He was in the chorus playing a low-life in the pub surrounded by ladies of the night.

Theo concentrated on singing her heart out to make the most of the role. At first, she didn't notice the tall chorus boy stealing glimpses of her.

''I had my eye on her,'' Robin says.

But the ''handsome man with the twinkly eyes'' eventually caught Theo's eye and the two started dating. They married on June 12, 1954 at a registry office in London.

Robin worked most of his adult life as an interior designer. They have six children, 14 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.


The couple moved to New Zealand in 1975.

Theo and Robin live with the intriguing thought that their fathers were both involved in World War I conflict in Arras, France— possibly at the same time.

Robin is the son of an English soldier with the Honourable Artillery Company which joined in 1915. Theo's father was an observer in the German Air Corps.

Robin says his father could have been in contact with the Waihi tunnellers "but also we have the intriguing thought that my wife's father Alfred, an eminent artist, could have been flying overhead in his German biplane as an observer photographing and sketching the enemies front line".

It is just another bond that ties them together.

Theo says they have had a wonderful life.

The secret to a happy marriage?

''Selective hearing,'' Theo says. ''No seriously, we always got on very well and that's the key.''