She may be 101 years old but Nalda Iris Fraser-Jones "remains feisty and strong-willed".

Mrs Fraser-Jones turned 101 last Friday and read every word on every birthday card she received.

She is blind in one eye but her other eye is so good (with glasses) that she even managed to read the fine print on the bottom of her letters from the prime minister and MP Todd McClay.

"Although she is now very frail, she still remains feisty and strong-willed and gives the girls at CHT a run for their money," said daughter-in-law Lyn Fraser-Jones.

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Mrs Fraser-Jones (nee Shine) was born on January 15, 1915, to Nora and Frank Shine at Waikino in the Karangahake Gorge where her father Frank worked in the Victoria Stamping Battery.

By the time she was school age, the family lived on a dairy farm at Ngarua Rd, Waitoa.

She and her sister Betty walked two or three miles each day to Waitoa School.

She later went to boarding school at St Mary's College, Ponsonby, Auckland, before returning to the family farm.

At age 21, she married Reginald Fraser-Jones, the son of a farming family from Tahuna. Reg was an adventurous young man who rode motorbikes and flew aeroplanes.

Mrs Fraser-Jones took up the role of a farmer's wife and as well as milking cows was always busy growing vegetables and tending to a large orchard. The produce she bottled and preserved, as well as raising three children - Val, Marie and Frank.

She joined the local branch of the Women's Division of Federated Farmers and was secretary from 1950 to 1959.

For many years at the Te Aroha A & P show, she won many prizes for best bloom and flower arranging. Gardening, floral arranging, baking and cake decorating were a passion.

After retiring from farming, the couple moved to Auckland for a while before moving to Tauranga in 1971.

There Mrs Fraser-Jones joined the Tauranga Lyceum Club and remained an active member and held various positions until recent years.

When Reg died in 1987, just after their 50th wedding anniversary, she got her driver's licence for the first time, at age 72, passing on the first attempt.

She drove her little Daihatsu Charade up until her late 80s.

Over the years, Mrs Fraser-Jones has enjoyed travelling to Australia and the United States.

In her 90s she moved into Malyon House Rest Home, Te Puke (now CHT Glenavon) where she has continued to keep good health, and reaching 101 is testimony to the loving care she has been given by the rest home's staff.

The main influences on Mrs Fraser-Jones's life have been her Irish heritage - always ready to debate with strong views - her extensive family relationships, her Catholic faith, a sense of belonging to whatever community she lived in, a sense of hard work and thrift and the benefits of a good education.

She has three children and numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.