Village News

Friends for Life

06 August 2022

Martin Barnes and Neil Hingston

Friends for Life

When Martin Barnes and Neil Hingston stepped through the doors of Air New Zealand in 1963, they never imagined they’d become lifelong friends.

But now, the retired aircraft engineers live six houses apart at Metlifecare’s Crestwood retirement village in West Auckland and have a treasure trove of shared memories. During their nearly 60 years of friendship, they’ve built kit cars together, holidayed around the world together, and for the past 36 years they’ve even celebrated Boxing Day together.

“Our extended families always get together for a Boxing Day picnic. Our wives Hillary and Pauline are great friends, our kids are similar ages - our sons even work together. It’s a lot of fun,” says Martin, before mentioning another longstanding tradition, the “old farts’ day out”, their annual Christmas shopping and lunch expedition.

Just 15 days apart in age, and with many shared interests, Martin and Neil have forged an unshakeable bond. And although their professional lives took different directions (Neil eventually left Air New Zealand to start his own business, while Martin spent his entire career with the airline), they’ve always remained “best mates”.

“We bounce ideas off each other, we get on great,” says Martin.

“We’re both easy going, and Martin does what I tell him!” adds Neil.

After so many years of comradeship, it’s not surprising they’ve ended up in the same retirement village.

“We were on our old farts’ day out, and Neil and Pauline told us they were moving into Crestwood. A week later, Hillary and I signed up for the house at the other end of the block!”

They haven’t looked back.

“It’s fantastic here,” says Neil.“ Straight away it felt like home. You’re looked after, there’s no lawns or maintenance, and there are meals if you want them.”

Best of all, catching up with his best mate has never been easier.

“Every Friday night we have fish and chips and on Mondays and Tuesdays we meet at The Shed.”

‘The Shed’ is the recently opened workshop created for the village’s resident DIYers. Here the pair work on new projects (like building tables, crafting timber crosses to commemorate Anzac Day, and making plaque posts for the village orchard).

“We get to The Shed around 9.30, sit down and have a chat and then get to work. We always plan to have a cup of tea but neither of us ever remembers to bring the milk!”

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