Long-wed couple reveal key to a happy marriage

19:43, Jun 03 2014
Happy together: Henk and Maria Tegelaars have been married 65 years and still enjoy a laugh together.

Perseverance has been the key to a happy 65 years of marriage, according to Henk and Maria Tegelaars.

The couple celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary during Queen's Birthday weekend by renewing their vows in front of family and friends at Elloughton Gardens, where they are both residents.

They met 68 years ago at a carnival in their homeland, Holland. Maria was nearly 17 when Henk, 21, asked her to dance.

"I don't know if you believe in love at first sight but that's exactly what it was ... That's how it started and we're still together," Maria said.

Their main tip for staying together for all those years was perseverance, as "people are too quick to run away at the first hurdle".

According to the pair, the "she'll be right" attitude isn't enough. "You give and you take. If you've got something, you work with each other," Henk said.


When they first got married, they had no money and few possessions. Despite this, Maria said they were always happy.

They decided to emigrate to New Zealand in 1957, because her older brothers were already here.

Maria said South Canterbury was chosen for them, after a language mix-up with her older brother, who was supposed to live in the North Island but ended up as a farmer in Tekapo.

"We came from a town like Auckland and arrived in Cave. I told myself to pull my socks up, we've done it, got to make the most of it."

Apart from words learned from soldiers during the war, including darling and sweetheart, the couple said they knew little English when they arrived in New Zealand.

When they moved to South Canterbury they had to "start all over again", but nothing worried them. "We were happy and took it as it came," Maria said.

The Timaru Herald