Ruth is the human interest reporter and a photographer for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Bay birthday girl looking forward to 100th

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

Centenary birthday cards already adorn the mantle pieces in her small but colourful home in Greerton, Tauranga. Tapestries, which she did 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, England, to Ada and William Jones, she was raised and 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. Her eldest sister Dafine was 19 and Clare was 15 when she was born.

I've just lived and enjoyed everything.
Irene More

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

Mr More ventured over to New Zealand first.

"We didn't know what we were coming into and we had a salon in near Brighton but he got in touch and said, 'sell as 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 across oceans.

They 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 decided where they would retire and live out the rest of their days.

They chose New Zealand.

Irene More will be turning 100-year-old this Sunday. Photo/George Novak
Irene More will be turning 100-year-old this Sunday. Photo/George Novak

Sadly, Mrs More husband's died tragically 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 United Kingdom for six years, but having been away from her birth place 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 success at long life. Even though 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 would have kept her mind active.

She has now 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.

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