From one handyman to the next, back in 1981 Ted Witterick, a technician at Victoria University wrote a letter and hid it in the walls of his Raumati South house by the sea.

It remained unfound for nearly 40 years, stored in a cigarette packet until builder Ray Levy discovered it last week while doing his own renovations to the house which he had purchased in 2008.

"Seeing the cigarette packet and being a smoker myself I was excited to see a cigarette packet and wondered if there were any left in it," Ray said.

This cigarette packet when full cost $1.08, milk is 25c a pint, bread about 60c a loaf.

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"But I saw there was a note on the front saying 'Message Inside, April 18, 1981, Easter Saturday'.

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"This was way cooler."

Opening it up the letter was titled, 'Just for fun and posterity' and signed 'yours from the past, Edmund (Ted) Witterick'.

The letter tells of life in the 1980s, painting a picture of what life was like.

Ted tells of building the house by himself, moving in in January 1958.

"This cigarette packet when full cost $1.08, milk is 25c a pint, bread about 60c a loaf," he wrote.

"Petrol is $10 for 15 litres, 4 litres of oil paint $25, matches 8c a box, we changed to decimal currency in 1973 and 1 pound = $2."

The Space Shuttle had just made its first successful flight, Prime Minister Robert Muldoon was "facing an election threat from Social Credit" and, locally, water from the town supply had just been laid on.

"Half a gallon of sherry $8.50, $3.20 per bottle beer, in cans $11 a box. Inland letter rate 25c per letter.

"I hope you found this of interest, don't criticise my building skills — I'm a technician in Victoria University and travel in daily by car, a 1971 Viva."

Sharing pictures of the letter online for the local community to see, Ray was able to get in contact with relatives of Ted who passed away in 1995, and plans to make copies of the letter before framing it for his wall.

"I just thought this is really cool, I'm a chippy by trade, this has to stay with the house, maybe I'll also plant something of my own."

Having met Ted's daughter Di Daniels a few years ago, Ray said, "As soon as I read it I thought I should contact Di.

"Seeing the letter she said she wasn't surprised he had written and hidden the letter.

"She also said he would have been chuffed that it had been found and shared it for the community to see."