Age is just a number as Madeline Anderson turns 109-year-old

By Solbin Kang

Madeline Anderson is among the oldest people living in New Zealand, but age seems to be just a number for her ahead of her 109th birthday.

Born on May 4 1907 in Dunedin, Mrs Anderson hits the milestone tomorrow.

Residing in Upper Hutt, she isn't in a rest home, and happily walks around with her walker in the home she's lived in for 67 years.

"It's changed. There were animals in the paddocks when we first came here. Now there's houses and shops."

Mrs Anderson is incredibly popular amongst the community with friends visiting her everyday while her daughter Heather List visits every week.

"I have quite a social life," she said. The 109-year-old fondly remembered her childhood spent with her three sisters and parents on a farm in Clinton, South Otago.

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"We had a play house made of several trees with a dome at the top."

The family of six lived in Clinton until Mrs Anderson was 12 .

Mrs Anderson's earliest memory dated back to 1909 -when she was just two years old.

"My sister was born when I was two years and three months old and I can remember being sent for a message from my grandma next door.

Upper Hutt woman Madeline Anderson, who turns 109 tomorrow, in a portrait with her late husband, Harry.
Upper Hutt woman Madeline Anderson, who turns 109 tomorrow, in a portrait with her late husband, Harry.

"I could see my mother in bed with the new baby."

When Mrs Anderson left school, she worked at a law office as a stenographer for nine years.

She was engaged for eight years and when it fell apart, she moved to Auckland where she met her husband Harry.

"My husband also had a broken engagement so we patched things up together and lived happily ever after," she said with smile.

Upper Hutt woman Madeline Anderson, right, who turns 109 tomorrow, in a family portrait. Photo / Supplied
Upper Hutt woman Madeline Anderson, right, who turns 109 tomorrow, in a family portrait. Photo / Supplied

Together they have one daughter Heather, and had two sons Graeme and Brian - who both passed away in car accidents.

Mrs Anderson said none of her family members have lived to to be over 100 years old, and her younger siblings have all passed away.

Daughter Heather said her mum was hugely popular and had a lot of support from her friends who regularly visited her.

"She's everybody's mother.

"People always gravitate towards her. I remember growing up, people said they wished she was their mother," she said.

When asked what the secret is to a long life, Mrs Anderson simply said there was no secret.

"I never think about dying really.

"There's time to be born and a time to die and I don't think you have very much say in that."

She will spend the day celebrating with her friends and family in the home she's lived in for over six decades.

Timeline

• Age 5 - The Titanic sunk
• Age 7 - WW I broke out
• Age 32 - WW II broke out
• Age 46 - Sir Edmund Hilary conquered Everest
• Age 62 - First Moon landing
• Age 80 - NZ win the Rugby World Cup in Auckland
• Age 108 - NZ flag referendum

Is Madeline the oldest person in New Zealand?

• The 2013 New Zealand Census recorded three women were 113 years old.
•Three women and three men were recorded to be 110 years old.
•Three women were 106 years old, three were 107 years old and 108 years old.
•While it's not for certain the people recorded would still be alive, a Statistics New Zealand spokesman said Mrs Anderson was "certainly among the oldest in the country".

- NZ Herald

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