Sailing, a love of scrabble and other community groups and family were just a few of the things a Rotorua couple reminisced about on a special anniversary.

Tim, 86, and Jani, 84, Henneveld had their 60th wedding anniversary on Monday.

The couple are from The Netherlands and met thanks to Jani's friendship with Tim's sister.

"Jani came to our home to do school work while she was studying to become a kindergarten teacher."


Jani says she "sort of ignored" Tim at first, as she had her friends and he had his.

However, before he went away to the army for a year (1955 to 1956) Tim had 10 days off and his friend offered him a boat to use for some sailing.

He phoned Jani up and asked if she wanted to go sailing with him.

"I said if I pass [exams] I will go sailing".

She passed her exams, they set off and that was it. They then kept writing letters to each other while he was away in the army, she says.

Tim says they both come from a huge family and similar circumstances, so they clicked quite easily.

The couple got married in Holland three years after Tim came back from the army, and exactly nine months after their wedding their first son was born.

Tim and Jani went on to have three children - Rick, Lynda and Peter. They now have seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Two of their children currently live in Wellington and one in Ōmanu, Mount Maunganui.


"The love of our children keeps us alive", Jani says.

Tim and Jani moved to Rotorua 45 years ago, after coming to New Zealand on holiday to look around and deciding to make the move.

Tim was a builder, and then after attending teachers college in Auckland was the wood work teacher at Rotorua Lakes High School for 18 years.

Jani has been a kindergarten teacher for most of her life, including 10 years at Elstree Kindergarten.

They have had fun living in Rotorua and have been involved in the community in many ways.

They say a highlight for them while living in Rotorua was starting a Neighbourhood Watch in their area and being involved in running it for 30 years.

"We really enjoyed it".

The couple also started the Rotorua Scrabble Club in 2000, of which they are now life members, and started the Canasta Club at Parksyde.

When asked what the secret ingredients were to a long, happy marriage there was one word that came up instantly - honesty.

"Honesty is the best thing, and take care of each other."

Tim and Jani will be travelling down to Wellington Going down to Wellington next Thursday to celebrate their anniversary with their children.

"They shouted us a flight to Wellington and we are looking forward to just being together."

They say they will not be getting up to too much with the family, but the guitars and music is sure to come out.

"We always do music with the children. It's all we need."