On the same hour of the same day 60 years ago two Havelock North couples were married on opposite sides of the world.

Today they worship at the same Catholic church but didn't realise the coincidence until they met there 10 years ago on their golden wedding anniversary.

John and Marie McCormack met in Wellington when she was 10 and he was 15.

There was a desperate search for her older brother after he ran off following a public admonishment from a nun, and John was asked to look after her.


He became a friend of the family and their first date was a trip to the movies on a bicycle, with her sitting on the crossbar, and they became a couple when she was 15.

"We raised a few eyebrows but we got on like a house on fire," he said.

They married when she was 18 and in 1965 moved to Hawke's Bay for his job as a policeman, where he was active in liquor licensing and was a prosecuting sergeant before retiring in 1987.

They raised five children and have 10 grandchildren.

Bicycles and the law also featured in Anne and William O'Sullivan's relationship. The pair worked in a Dublin bakery and spent their courtship tramping and cycling.

One day a policeman stopped them after spotting William riding alongside Anne with his hand on her shoulder, and he was charged with holding on to a moving vehicle.

In court he was defended by his father, a legal advocate, who had the case dismissed on a technicality after strenuously complaining to the judge about the description of his future daughter-in-law as a moving vehicle.

After their wedding they emigrated to New Zealand where he left the baking trade to become a tanner at E Astley & Son in Auckland, later bought by Hawke's Bay's Lowe Corporation.

They raised four children and have 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

They moved to Hawke's Bay 15 years ago, following their daughter Mary Horner and her husband Ian.

Yesterday both couples received a special diamond anniversary blessing during a service at Our Lady of Lourdes church in Havelock North.

They will spend the weekend celebrating with their extended families.

Mr O'Sullivan said the secret to a happy marriage was give and take.

Mrs O'Sullivan said talking was key.

"If you have a disagreement talk it over before you go to bed," she said.

Mrs McCormack shared a similar sentiment.

"Sulking is the worst thing you can do," she said.

Mr McCormack said he was an easy man to please.

"Never disagree with your wife."