It is quite fitting that Bob and Helen Lane have decided to move into Ryman’s new village at Hobsonville.
With its airfield history and location neighbouring RNZAF base Whenuapai, the theme of flying is quite in keeping with the couple’s own history together.
Firstly, Helen’s parents fell in love as WWII air force folk based at Wigram – her mum a WAAF and her dad a pilot instructor who also flew flying boats out of Hobsonville.
Secondly, says Bob: “We both worked for New Zealand National Airways Corporation (NAC).
“I started there in 1961 and Helen started in 1967. It was a great company to work for – they treated people like people, not a number.”
Bob rose from the ranks from cadet to become Payroll Supervisor and Helen was Personnel Dept Secretary at the airline’s head office in Wellington and, while they admit sparks didn’t fly in the first instance, it was a different story when Helen came back to the same job after returning from a two year OE.
“I noticed Bob kept coming up to the 11th floor for some silly reason or other!” Helen laughs.
Within six weeks they were engaged and five months later in 1972 they got married!
Some big life changes were still to come, including the arrival of their only son, a move up to Auckland after the airline merged with Air New Zealand, and then a redundancy offer for Bob four years later.
After trying a dive charter boat venture Bob ended up in real estate for the next 35 years which was a job he adored – and he has the cupboard full of trophies and silverware to prove it!
“I think with that kind of work you either make it or you don’t, and I loved it. I actually signed a contract on Christmas Day once.
“The last 20 years I spent selling land and subdivisions, which was a niche market.”
While they have both worked hard over the years, with Helen commuting from west Auckland to Newmarket to her receptionist role for a dental specialist, their leisure time is taken up with regular trips overseas and around New Zealand, with many of the local trips involving NAC reunions.
“The 75th anniversary had 323 turn up for lunch on a Wednesday, that’s a testament to how much people loved working for NAC. Last year a few of us flew down in a DC3!” says Bob.
Another big part of their life has been looking after their only granddaughter before and after school.
“We’ve had all her friends to stay over the years and she’s got her own room here.”
With their granddaughter now at high school and no longer needing dropping off, Helen says they are now focused on readying for the move into the Hobsonville retirement village.
Says Bob: “We’ve looked at so many over the years, either with older relatives who live in them or friends who’ve started moving in.
“We realised we needed to make a decision that was the best for us while we were competent to do so because we didn’t want to leave it for someone else to decide.”
Adds Helen: “As soon as I saw the architecture of Hobsonville I said to Bob ‘this is it!’ I love the modern, welcoming look of it.”
The deal was sealed when they secured a three-bedroom ground level apartment, perfect for their two beloved rescue cats Poppy and Peppy to come and go as they please.
“We were the first to sign contracts,” says Helen with a grin. “We’re quite chuffed about that!”
The other point of difference was the Ryman staff they’ve had dealings with.
“Everyone has been absolutely delightful and I was so impressed with Carolyn the sales advisor.
“Every time she says she will be in touch about something she gets in touch. It’s been lovely, we just feel well looked after through the whole process.”