A bed, pillows, two blankets and curtain material were the only wedding presents Syd and Molly Bristow received when they married 70 years ago today.

It was the end of World War II and all food and clothes were rationed, and people had no money for wedding gifts.

However, the couple did not care - all they needed was each other.

Molly, 92, and Syd, 94, celebrated 70 years of marriage today at Cantabria with an afternoon tea and about 10 family members living in Rotorua.

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The couple said the secret to their marriage success was making the most of what you had and who you were with, as well as supporting each other as a family.

Mr Bristow said he had been keen on cycling and they had had a tandem bike.

"Then my son Michael was born and we had a little sidecar on it. We would go out for the day."

The couple, who have two children Michael and Ann, met during World War II.

"I was in the Royal Navy at the time in England, and I was on a ship and was friendly with Molly's brother, he was on the ship too."

While home on leave Mrs Bristow's brother introduced them and they fell in love.

They were married on a wet and windy Sunday at the Eltham Parish Church in London.

Mr Bristow wore his only suit and his bride had to borrow a dress from a friend.

Mr Bristow said their move from England to New Zealand was a highlight of their 70 years of marriage, even though at first he was not impressed and wanted to go home.

They moved to be closer to family and because they thought it would be a warmer place to live. They settled in Auckland before moving to Rotorua in 1982.

The couple delivered Meals on Wheels for many years in Auckland and Rotorua, receiving a Community Award in 1999. Mrs Bristow also worked as a volunteer at the Red Cross for more than 20 years.