The wedding late last month of Laura Wallis and Jordan Peart was truly a match made in Raglan.

Not only have the couple known each other “forever” – growing up together on neighbouring farms in Okete Road – but their marriage is the first to bring two of the town’s oldest families together in wedlock.

As the bride’s mother Shayney says it was “history in the making” – if only because the outbreak of war a century earlier thwarted hopes of an earlier Peart-Wallis wedding.

While Shayney’s daughter Laura, 19, is a direct descendant of the Rev James Wallis – a missionary who was the first European to settle in the Raglan district in the 1830s – the groom’s ancestry also stretches five generations back in Raglan.

In fact the name of Jordan’s great-grandfather’s brother, A C Peart, is recorded on the war memorial downtown.

Cuthbert Peart, as he was known, was destined to marry a Hazel Wallis, explains Shayney, only he never returned from World War One. It was an “unspoken” thing, she adds of the family history, and the only other time in the long Wallis-Peart association that an inter-family wedding was planned.

The two families have lived side-by-side in Okete for more than 100 years. “They’ve farmed together, played tennis together, gone to church and school together,” points out Roger Peart, the groom’s father and pastor of Raglan’s Surfside Church.

Romance blossomed for Laura and Jordan a few years ago as teens carpooling to Hamilton Christian School in Rototuna. And despite a downpour on the big day which meant a switch from plan A to B – from the rustic outdoor setting on Jordan’s family’s farm where he’d proposed, to the sanctuary of Stewart Street’s Union Church – the nuptials went off without a hitch.

It didn’t matter about the weather, Laura told her mother at the time. “We just want to get married – that’s what the day’s all about.”

Tins of wild flowers previously placed on stumps of wood to form an outdoor aisle had been hastily transferred to the church as table decorations. And wedding guests themselves, before being redirected to the church, were treated to a romantic display of staggered signs up the farm’s long driveway – like ‘Welcome’, ‘Love’ and ‘Laughter’ all the way through to ‘Happily Ever After’.

“It was a beautiful day,” Shayney enthused of the historic occasion.
The young couple have begun their married life in a cottage at Okete on Roger and Cheryll Peart’s farm where Jordan grew up, which borders Ross and Shayney Wallis’s farm where Laura also grew up.

Laura’s grandfather Michael Wallis – still an ace tennis player – lives close by too, on family farmland which has recently become the Three Streams subdivision.

Edith Symes