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Mary and Bill English’s love story in pictures

It’s hard to believe this former farm boy from Dipton was tongue-tied when he first met lovely Mary.
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Why Bill is proud to be a Kiwi

Becoming Prime Minister fulfilled a lifelong dream for Bill English, who loves the fact that Kiwis, while respectful of the office, “just bowl up to you on the street. It’s a very special feature of New Zealand.”

Here, Bill shares why he’s proud to be a Kiwi.

“I think the way New Zealanders are good at dealing with difference is amazing. Waitangi Day illustrates how much progress we’ve made on Maori-related issues, which 30 years ago were very difficult. People are tolerant – they don’t expect everyone to agree, but are tolerant despite disagreements, and good at solving what would otherwise be quite disruptive issues. You only have to look at other countries to see that.”

On becoming a father

While marrying Mary and being sworn in as Prime Minister rank pretty highly on Bill’s most eventful days, it would be hard to top the birth of his first child Luke.

Recalls the Prime Minister, “I was cycling down the Kilbirnie Hill and had a pretty serious crash into a bus. I was lying in the middle of the road and the woman in the local hairdresser recognised me, and she rang Mary, who was three or four blocks away at home. By the time she got there, the ambulance was there. We went into hospital and things didn’t go well, so she had to help treat me a bit.

“Then her waters broke and she went into labour. I was stitched up in the head and the legs, then put in a bed and wheeled over to the maternity ward. I was drugged up with painkillers and didn’t really understand what was going on, so I was encouraging Mary to stick with her plan of having no painkillers! I couldn’t put up with the pain, but I was expecting her to! And that was Luke.”

Suffice to say, Mary wasn’t impressed.

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The happy couple, who met at an orientation ball as varsity students, married 30 years ago.

At school aged five or six.

The English trio (from left) Connor, Dermot and Bill.

The Wellington couple will not be moving into Premier House, the official prime ministerial residence.

Mary’s necklace is a 30th anniversary gift. “Usually my taste isn’t great, but occasionally I’ll see something and I’ll just love it,” says Bill.

The Prime Minister and his wife Mary with Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy, her husband Sir David Gascoigne and the English children (from left) Xavier, Bart, Rory, Luke, Maria and Thomas.

As the photoshoot nears its end, the Weekly‘s photographer takes one more shot and asks the Prime Minister to look his way. Instead, Bill’s eyes are on his wife.

“Look at the camera!” she admonishes, before he offers a simple reply. “I’d rather look at you.”

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