A Hastings couple who lived through historic moments of the 20th century have had their own milestone recognised by the governor-general, prime minister, and the Queen.

When Toby and Lillian Hantler received the three cards congratulating them on their 70th wedding anniversary it "caused quite a stir".

The cards will be shown off today, when the couple celebrate their platinum anniversary surrounded by three generations of their descendants.

The pair, both 91, met as their mutual group of friends liked to go dancing together, and Mrs Hantler rode home a couple of times on the front bar of her future husband's bike.


For two years, Mr Hantler was posted overseas with the navy during WWII, but only a week after he returned they were engaged.

He said: "There was too much opposition, so I told them they could all go."

A vicar with the flu married the pair in St Matthew's Church, with Mr Hantler in his navy uniform, and Mrs Hantler's bridesmaids in dresses she had made. After a honeymoon to Gisborne, they moved into an Ada St house Mr Hantler had built.

Although they have travelled everywhere through New Zealand, their home hasn't moved far - 70 years later, they live on the same street, as do three of their six children.

Since Mr Hantler had served his country, the couple had continued to serve their community.

He ran his own painting contracting business for 55 years, painting homes in the area and old homesteads that other painters didn't want to travel out to. Mr Hantler had helped plant the trees along Karamu Rd, and had started the town skating rink.

His wife had used her life-long passion to give back to the community.

Since learning to knit at 7-years-old, she had knitted, sewed, and crocheted her way through 42 quilts, and all her children's clothes.

After moving into a retirement village, she had also started a knitting group which distributed knitted items to worthy causes, such a teddy bars for St John Ambulances.

The couple said they had been very fortunate to have reached their age without any major health issues, except Mr Hantler's hearing in his left ear - a remnant of time spent around gunfire.

They credited their health to eating fresh fruit and vegetables, which Mr Hantler was passionate about growing.