It is mindboggling to think of all the historic events that have happened in the last 100 years. Countless wars, multiple recessions and a moon landing are just some of the things that Tauranga woman Mavis Meyer has lived through as she celebrates her 100th birthday today. Bay of Plenty Times reporter Jean Bell sits down with Mavis Meyer to learn about her life and what her secret to longevity is.
Mavis Meyer looks so fabulous as she reclines on her couch, it is hard to believe today marks her 100th turn around the sun.The Ōtūmoetai great-great-grandmother is sassy and spritely, and her smile beams brightly.
She never expected to make it to triple digits but it is clear age has treated her well.
"When I was 12, someone who was 40 was ancient," she says. "But then when I got to 40, I thought, "Gosh, I'm a spring chicken!'"
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Meyer will celebrate her special day with a birthday lunch at the Mount Maunganui RSA.
More than 130 people are expected to attend the gathering, including her four children, 12 grandchildren, 33 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.
She will arrive in style, sitting in a gig pulled by a white miniature pony.
Meyer credits her longevity to her stout Finnish, German and English ancestry and can-do attitude.
"If you can learn from the happenings of life and survive, you'll do alright."
She was born in Taupiri and spent her early years in the area.
She was a keen sportswoman in her youth and adult years, playing netball, basketball and tennis.
The Great Depression hit in 1931 and 12-year-old Meyer left school to help on the family farm.
But life on the farm, even during an economic downturn, was not too bad.
"We had milk and cream, and we made our own butter."
Meyer's fond memories of this time include attending dances at a local community hall once a fortnight, escorted by her parents.
"It was wonderful. And of course, how did we get there? We went with our parents.
"That's the only way you got out."
When she was 19, Meyer moved to Hamilton to study typing, shorthand and bookkeeping.
A year later, World War II struck and she returned to help on the family farm in Taupiri.
It was during this time that Meyer met her future husband, Doug, and the couple were married in 1941.
He was in the airforce and visited intermittently during the war, leaving Meyer to raise their first child alone.
"Each time he'd come and visit there would always seem to be a child on the way afterwards. Now don't ask me how that happened.
"We didn't have the same facilities [women] seem to have now."
The couple moved back to Hamilton after the war finished. In 1968, the family shifted to Mount Maunganui.
The family built a home on Oceanbeach Rd and Meyer was "headhunted" to work at Mount Maunganui College.
She says sport was a central aspect of family life, including swimming, football, netball.
"We'd be here, there and everywhere on Saturdays watching each one of them.
"I'd much rather have sport than housework, any day."
Doug died in 2000 after 59 years of marriage and she moved to Ōtūmoetai the following year.
Eighteen years after the move, Meyer is as sprightly as ever.
The social butterfly plays bridge at least twice a week and whizzes around town on coffee dates.
She knits for Homes of Hope, her hands busily crafting blankets, dolls and ponchos for children in need.
"I enjoy the knitting and I enjoy the crocheting, but I enjoy the fact that what I do is enjoyed."
She says she is grateful for the support of her caring family.
"I'm lucky to have got here and still live by myself."