It's been 60 years plus since Leo and Beverly met in the tobacco fields of Motueka, reports Merania Karauria
Leo Kosmala was 21 when he arrived in New Zealand from Australia, and headed to Motueka to pick tobacco.
It was November 21, 1950.
Originally from Poland, Mr Kosmala had been in Australia for a couple of years and came across the Tasman to look around New Zealand.
"I was getting short of money and I had to pick up a job."
It was a fortuitous meeting for Mr Kosmala because Wanganui girl Beverley Turner was also in Motueka, picking tobacco.
"When she came home I followed her," said a smiling Mr Kosmala.
He was standing on the Guyton/Victoria Ave corner outside McGruers when he saw the girl he followed to Wanganui, riding along the avenue.
Mrs Kosmala takes up the story.
"I had my 21st birthday cake which I had put on the carrier ... the holder just missed the icing."
The young Beverley did not see the young man standing there; getting her cake home was priority. But Mr Kosmala had her address and called to see her the next day.
The couple married on October 31, 1953, in Christ Church on Wicksteed St.
Dancing was in full swing in Wanganui and Mrs Kosmala loved to get out on the dance floor.
"Leo could not dance but I used to pull him around."
Mrs Kosmala is now 81, which gives new meaning to what an octogenarian is; still with a power of energy and golden brown from endless hours in their well-tended garden.
There's plenty of banter between the two, which elicits the question about the longevity of their 60-year marriage.
"It has been very democratic as long as I agreed," Mr Kosmala offers politely, and adds, the key to making everything work: "co-operation".
Yes, there were tensions but they never let the sun go down on their wrath. "Life is too short. But it has been a good life,"says the 84-year old Mr Kosmala.
In 1954, Mr Kosmala became a naturalised New Zealander, and from 1957, for 37 years, Mr Kosmala cycled Wanganui streets delivering the mail before moving into the Post Office mailroom until 1994.
After a 51-year absence Mr Kosmala returned home to his home town of Cieszyn, Poland, in 1996. Half of Cieszyn is in Poland and half in Slovakia, formerly Czechoslavakia.
It was a very emotional homecoming, Mrs Kosmala said, as there was only one older brother left living and a cousin in Vienna who was 21 when Mr Kosmala left Poland.
The couple still live in the Springvale home where they have lived for 57 years and raised their five children: Jill, Vicki, who is living in Europe; Susan, the late Debbie and Greg, who has lived in the United States for 28 years.
"It was a struggle having four girls in high school at the same time," they said.
But it was also a change for each of them, both having grown up in families of brothers.
The couple took their family on camping trips around the North Island; "we went everywhere packed into the Mark 3 Zephyr". Later, they travelled to America four times to visit son Greg and his family in their summer holidays, and three times to Australia.
These days the garden is their joy and inspiration; Mr Kosmala is the vegetable man and his wife tends to the flowers.
They will celebrate their 60th anniversary afternoon tea with friends and family on November 2.