When Florence Lumb was born the Anzacs were preparing for Gallipoli. When she started school, in the Yorkshire town of Brighouse at the age of three, World War I was still raging.

And this week the great-great-grandmother and one-time lingerie maker celebrated her 101st birthday with daughter Sheila Watson and friends at the Haruru Falls resthome where she has lived for the past six years.

Florence has every intention of celebrating her 102nd birthday.

"I'm 101 now, so I'm waiting for the next one to come around," she said.

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As for how it feels to be 101: "You'll have to wait till you get there, then you'll see."

One of four children, Florence's earliest memories are of walking to school about 1918. She also recalls raiding the neighbour's orchard for fruit when she was supposed to be collecting turnips.

After leaving school she worked as a seamstress making knickers and camisoles in a small factory. She married milkman Leslie Lumb in 1938, on the eve of World War II, had two daughters and adopted a son.

Eldest daughter Sheila immigrated to New Zealand with her family in 1968; her parents and sister followed a year later. They settled near Dunedin and worked at a woollen mill in Milton.

Sheila, Florence and Leslie moved to the Bay of Islands about 15 years ago.

Florence is in good health but dementia means her recall of recent events is limited. However, her thick Yorkshire accent and mischievous sense of humour are undimmed.

"She says what she thinks and likes a good laugh. She's got a bit of cheek with it," family friend Doreen Haywood said.

Florence has at least 10 grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren.