Most people don't take kindly to persons unknown decorating their property without permission, but that wasn't the case for Kerikeri couple Charlie and Elaine Insley, who celebrated 65 years together with several surprises on April 24.

The couple woke to find their white picket fence adorned with two large signs, decorated with 65 golden hearts, announcing their anniversary. They also found helium balloons in their bird bath, and a colourful windmill in the driveway.

Daughter Julie Insley said her parents were also "absolutely tickled" when old friends called to say they'd seen them on television's Breakfast Show.

Originally from Auckland, the Insleys married at the Anglican church in Papakura, and, after a few years of sharemilking there, moved to Kerikeri in 1963 to a newly converted dairy ballot farm just north of Kapiro.

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They raised their four children in the Far North, and became involved in the community, Elaine with Plunket and the Kerikeri Playcentre, and Charlie on the Kerikeri Primary School PTA. They both volunteered on the Kerikeri Pony Club committee.

After retiring to Snells Beach in 1983, and living for a short time in Matakana, they returned to Kerikeri in 1997.

Meanwhile Charlie (92) and Elaine (84) were also surprised when a few old friends turned up for lunch last week.

Much loved and appreciated by their four children, 10 grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren, they said the secret to a long marriage was not to be selfish and to be forgiving.