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Anne Batley Burton and Bert's beautiful bond

‘Champagne Lady’ Anne gets her bubbly personality from the main man in her life, her dad.

Anne Batley Burton is known as the “Champagne Lady” and she lives up to the name. She is a bubbly ball of energy and when you meet her father, Herbert (Bert) Batley, it’s easy to see where she gets it from.
In spite of a second stroke 18 months ago, he’s sharp-witted and full of jokes.
“He may not be able to get around as easily since this stroke, but he is still good at giving orders,” laughs Anne, one of the divas starring in the reality TV show The Real Housewives of Auckland.
At 94, Bert retains a fantastic eye for detail, and continues to help Anne with the marketing and design for Champagne Lady, Anne’s Champagne-importing business.
The effervescent pair have a long history of working together. Bert, with his brother Ron, was the founder of Batley Printing Company Ltd. He was always entrepreneurial and entered the workforce at age
13 as a message boy for Dawson’s Printing, delivering proofs to clients. He took the job very seriously despite having a bike with no brakes. “I simply stuck my foot in the spokes to stop it,” says Bert.
Bert has always been inventive in business, says Anne. Batley Printing Company Ltd was among the first to develop glossy lacquers for cosmetic packaging, a field in which they were specialists.
Anne joined the business full-time in 1976 after completing a Bachelor of Commerce at Auckland University. She quickly became her father’s right-hand woman and was the first female (and youngest) public company director in New Zealand.
She was expected to set a good example for the other employees. “If I was even one minute late, there would be hell to pay,” says Anne. “Two minutes late!” scoffs Bert.
Bert and Anne were the first to develop credit card manufacturing in New Zealand. They went public and sold their majority shareholding in the company in 1984, but Bert has always been on hand to provide guidance for later ventures.
As well as her entrepreneurial efforts, Anne is a devoted animal lover and the founder of The New Zealand Cat Foundation. She devotes much of her time to the
stray cat colony in Parnell, affectionately described as the “Parnell pussies”.
Her work, with that of a group of volunteers, has ensured the health, desexing and upkeep of hundreds of cats. And she has roped in Bert to make a number of shelters for her felines.
Anne’s admiration for her dad is clear. “He’s been the most important guiding force in my whole life. I love looking after my father.”
Bert enjoys taking care of his daughter too, though. Anne found out a secret a few weeks ago. “I was engaged to someone before I married Richard [stockbroker Richard Burton] and things didn’t quite go to plan,” explains Anne.
“I had been given an emerald and diamond engagement ring. I felt I should be able to keep the ring when we split up and Dad thought I should give it back. So I’ve always thought I had this engagement ring from this guy. But Dad told me that he had paid for it.”
Anne and Bert had a special Father’s Day lunch at his favourite Auckland restaurant. “I’m always feted on Father’s Day, certainly not ignored,” he says.
“Well, it was a betrothal ring and I didn’t think you should keep it,” counters Bert. “I know you felt you should but I didn’t feel it was right, so I reimbursed him. Now you don’t ever need to worry about giving it back. It’s yours.”
For Father’s Day, Anne and Bert will enjoy his favourite lunch – a crayfish at Auckland’s Sails Restaurant. “It’s always a highlight of the year,” says Bert. “I’m always very feted on Father’s Day – certainly not ignored.”
Anne points out that Bert has always been difficult to ignore. “She’s talking about when I told Anne to clean up her room and she took no notice,” laughs Bert.
“One day, before she came back from school, I opened out the doors of her second-storey room and chucked a load of stuff that was on the floor out the window. So when she came home, there was a huge pile
of stuff on the ground to greet her. She learned to listen when I asked her to do things.”
“The funny thing is that he thinks I don’t take any notice of anything he says,” Anne adds. “He says, ‘Oh, you never bloody listen to me.’ And I say, ‘You’d be surprised.’ Because I do. I listen to every word.”

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