Not long after Izak and Noela Hartevelt were married 50 years ago, Noela found a vacuum cleaner under the sheets in their bed.

As amusing as it looked, the young bride was perplexed.

"There was this big lump in our bed and I asked Izak what it was," Noela says.

"He gave me a big smile and then he asked me whether I was married to my vacuum cleaner, or whether was I married to him."


The couple still laugh about that 'argument' nearly half a century later.

There have been few, if any, rumpuses in their long marriage since, they say.

"If we ever had something we didn't like, we would spit it out. No use in having grudges that last for days," says Izak, 77.

"You have to give and take," says Noela, 76.

It's been the secret - as well as Noela's "good cooking" - of their successful and enduring marriage.

"You have to love one another and we have never had a row. Any disagreements we have had don't last."

The pair met in Wellington through a group of Dutch friends who worked with Noela at a Courtenay Pl garment factory.

Izak, a builder, and Wellington Diamond United football player, was an immigrant who had arrived off the boat in Wellington from Holland several years before to a country caught in a "time warp".


Within minutes of meeting Noela at the Windmill coffee lounge, Izak - whose grasp of English was not as fluent as it is today - had offered to drive her back to her flat in Silverstream.

She resisted but allowed him to drive her to the railway station to catch the train.

A week later Izak arrived with a group of friends on her doorstep by surprise.

"All I had to offer them to eat was jam sandwiches and boiled eggs, and a glass of sherry," Noela laughs.

The following Sunday the friends returned to one of Noela's delicious roast dinners - and the pact was made.

The pair, who had been unceremoniously dumped from the Dutch Reformed Church, were married soon after in the Congregational Church on Kent Tce.

"They (Dutch Reformed Church) didn't like us working on Sundays so they asked us to leave," Izak chuckles.

The pair, still strong churchgoers, now belong to the Living Well Church in Rotorua after retiring to the city 12 years ago.

They are also keen travellers, having visited Holland three or four times, as well as Asia and Sydney where their son, Gary, lives.

Once during a memorable cruise to South East Asia, their ship almost capsized in stormy weather.

Izak was thrown off his bunk while Noela had a pile of food end up on her lap as the ship tilted sideways.

It was amusing to look back on for the pair, but the incident caused serious injuries to some passengers, Ivan says.

The couple's 50th anniversary will be spent with their son, John, and his wife, Abigail, at a restaurant.

There is bound to be many shared memories across the dinner table of a marriage seemingly made in heaven.