Zest for life leads to 100th birthday

By Ruth Keber

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BIG DAY: Irene More, at her home in Greerton, will celebrate her 100th birthday tomorrow. PHOTO/GEORGE NOVAK
BIG DAY: Irene More, at her home in Greerton, will celebrate her 100th birthday tomorrow. PHOTO/GEORGE NOVAK

Irene More was born on the fifth day of June, 1916.

Centenary birthday cards already adorn the mantelpiece in her small but colourful home in Greerton, Tauranga.

Tapestries, which she made with her own hands, hang from the mint-green walls.

Mrs More, although small, has a huge zest for life.

Born in Tooting, South London in the United Kingdom, to Ada and William Jones, she attended elementary school until the age of 14.

Mrs More said because her two sisters were much older than her, she was basically raised as an only child.

When she was born, her eldest sister Dafine was 19 and Clare was 15.

Mrs More said after elementary school she went on to do a hairdressing apprenticeship for three years.

At the time you could have a shampoo and set for 3, she said. A short back and sides was only one shilling and sixpence.

She met her husband, John, while hairdressing and the pair married in 1939 and opened their own salon together.

"We were just attracted to one another. We had a lot of fun together, too, although I was always boss," she said with a laugh.

In Auckland in 1954, they saw an ad in the hairdressers guild to take over a salon while the owners went on holiday.

Mr More ventured over to New Zealand first.

"We didn't know what we were coming into and we had a salon near Brighton but he got in touch and said 'sell the business as quick as you can', so that is what I did."

Mrs More arrived in New Zealand in March 1954, after a six-week voyage by boat.

The couple made their home in the Bay of Plenty in 1961 and opened up a hair salon on Bureta Rd, Otumoetai, which they owned for six years.

The couple went back and forth to the Northern Hemisphere for 30-odd years before spending six months in their native homeland to decide where they would live out the rest of their days.

They chose New Zealand.

Mrs More's husband died in 1985.

"He was on the roof one minute and in the hospital the next. Just two hours and he was gone, with a heart attack there was no saving him.

"After his death, I just thought life goes on. I've still got to go travelling, I have still got to move."

She went back to the UK for six years, but having been away from her birthplace for so long she did not feel at home anymore.

"I said to my sisters, 'I am going back to New Zealand'. They wanted to know why and I said 'I have got more friends in New Zealand than I have in England', because I didn't see them [friends in England] anymore than I would hear from them in letters."

Mrs More said there was no secret to her long life. Her eldest sister, Dafine, lived until she was 106. "I've just lived and enjoyed everything."

She said she always ate "good, sensible food" and travel kept her mind active. She had been living in New Zealand, by herself and still independently, for 22 years.

"I will be here for as long as I can," she said.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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