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A love for the ages

Murray and June Doyle in 1948. PHOTOS/SUPPLIED

Doyles celebrate platinum anniversary
19 great-grandchildren are couple’s ‘icing on the cake’

Take your mind back seven decades.

Post-war New Zealand is having to handle a polio epidemic, which closes some schools, war-time Prime Minister Peter Fraser is still at the helm, there are still some post-wartime shortages to contend with, and Bill Kemp is Masterton Mayor.

It’s the spring of 1948. It’s Saturday, November 13, and 21-year-old June Larsen from Mauriceville and Murray Doyle, 25, from Masterton are getting married.

The Wesley Methodist Church on the corner of Chapel St and Lincoln Rd is resplendent with flowers. The bride arrives just on 11 o’clock in a car driven by her brother Owen, and the more than 100 guests are chatting quietly and smiling.

Murray and June Doyle today.

Thinking back on her wedding day, June Doyle reckons there may have even been some nervous tears, but she recalls that the day went very well and the reception at the Masonic Hall was a “wonderful spread”.

Her mother lent the new couple her little beige Hillman car and they set off for Palmerston North that night. Their honeymoon covered Taranaki, Rotorua and the Waikato regions before they returned to a small, elderly house they had already purchased in Bannister Street.

“With wedding presents we got like china, a dinner set, an afternoon tea set, quite a bit of linen and table cloths, we were able to set up our first home,” June recalls.

“Because we initially had no car, living there meant I could actually walk to work,” says Murray of the first home the young couple re-decorated together.

Originally with the Wairarapa Farmers’ Cooperative Association, Murray spent more than 40 years of his working life with Levin and Company, which merged with stock firm Murray Roberts, later to become part of the Wrightson NMA group.

The Doyles had purchased a second-hand Austin 10 by the time they bought a section in Michael St where they built the three-bedroom stucco home that was to be their residence for 63 years.

Radio broadcaster Rob Webb has just completed an oral history recording series with June and Murray.

“Typical of their generation they are both resourceful and humble,” he says.

“The Doyles are from a now-scarce demographic who still have clear memories of wartime service and the hardship of those times.

“With the death of her father, and her oldest brother overseas at the war, teenager June had to run the farm with her widowed mother.

Murray was part of Army Patrols on the lookout for enemy attack along the Napier foreshore before leaving New Zealand with the 13th Reinforcements for service in Egypt and joining some other Masterton soldiers with the 22nd Battalion in Italy.

“Aged just 22, he was in a pup tent at Trieste in northeastern Italy when news came through that the war had ended.”

June smiles warmly as she recalls teaching herself the piano and singing at various Wairarapa venues when she was young.

“In the weeks leading up to Christmas I was hardly home in the evenings because I would be asked to sing at the various functions that firms were having” she says.

“If there was ever a man who didn’t want any fuss made of his life, it would be Murray Doyle,” Rob says. “But his was a remarkable childhood to say the least. Born in New Plymouth in 1923, he had been adopted twice before reaching the age of four.”

To chat with June and Murray is to get the sense that their marriage is a strong one.

Raising two daughters and a son, now 10 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren are the ‘icing on the cake’ on their long and interesting journey together.

The many photos and memories in their Masterton home say it all really, and sharp memories along with their cheeky sense of fun, laughter and adventure continues to belie the fact that they are now both well into their nineties.


  1. You may not remember me Molly the herd tester who went to Margaret and Alan’s farm in 1962/64. I remember taking Heather to a girl guide event in Eketahuna. I married Leo Hawkins whose mother Gladys Sigvertsen was your cousin June. We were involved with Masterton Harriers and saw a lot of Joyce and family then and I remember us meeting you at Disley(?) st when visiting M&A. Our warmest congratulations to you. Love from Molly & Leo

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