Forty years growing strawberries for Auckland

For 40 years Marinko and Zorka Pavich have spent every summer working on their strawberry farm in Auckland's northwest.

The couple were born in the small village of Kozica in Croatia, then called Yugoslavia, in the 1930s.

With no chance of an education and no job prospects, Marinko came to New Zealand in 1957. Zorka followed in 1959.

"Marinko bought my boat ticket. He worked hard for it. He paid for it and brought me after two years and we're together.  We're still together," Mrs Pavich says.

With no English, Marinko and Zorka worked in factories across Northland and Auckland for 20 years.

Marinko and Zorka Pavich picking strawberries
Marinko and Zorka Pavich picking strawberries (Newshub.)

In 1976 they had saved enough to buy a four-hectare farm.

"We used to export a lot of strawberries overseas and we've always supplied the local market," Mrs Pavich says.

Despite Zorka being 82 and Marinko 84, they're still working hard picking and packing the berries with a small team of employees.

"We couldn’t do it alone. We're there seven days a week for at least three-and-a-half months in the season. When it's winter time we've got it a bit easier."

The farm is now surrounded by development, with shops and buildings popping up all around them.

Pavich strawberries
Development is surrounding the once-rural strawberry farm (Newshub.)

"The farm used to be very beautiful. It was nice and green with lots of strawberries around. It was very peaceful. But now it’s all different. There’s a bit of noise but you learn to put up with it."

Both Marinko and Zorka believe a strong work ethic is important.

"It's good for the health and good for the mind too. We're very lucky - thanks to God for that," she says.

Marinko Pavich with strawberries

They're grateful for the opportunities they've had in New Zealand.

"We love New Zealand. It’s a beautiful country. I love my country but I love New Zealand too."


Edited by: Kate Geary

Graphics by: Khushhal Bhatia

Produced by: Calkin Rameka

Camera: Harley Peters