"My friends tell me I've been blessed - and I have."

Olive Low celebrated her 100th birthday yesterday at Somervale Metlife Care Retirement Village surrounded by friends and relatives after taking a spin in a vintage car around Mount Maunganui.

Olive ("no-one calls me Mrs Low anymore") said she has no idea why she has lived as long as she has, although growing up the middle child between four brothers may have had something to do with it.

"When we were little, we didn't have time to get sick."


Born in Marton on February 15, 1915, Olive Barton was a small-town girl until war hit and she was shipped to Cairo with other members of the Women's War Service Auxiliary, which became known as the Tuis.

We didn't have any children but George used to tell everyone we had fun trying.

The Tuis' job was to raise morale and give the armed forces a touch of home by working in the Cairo Forces Club - preparing and serving food and drinks, visiting wounded servicemen, writing letters for men who had been blinded and even performing in stage shows.

It was 1943 and Olive was carrying out her Tui duties when a strapping young soldier in uniform took her heart.

"I was the first New Zealand girl he had seen for a long time and we fell in love. The rest is history."

George and Olive married in 1944 in Cairo - both of them wearing their uniforms.

After the war, the Lows moved to New Plymouth and George got into business selling liquor.

Olive was a housewife, "women didn't work in those days", who enjoyed a bit of bridge and golf when she was not doing housework.

"We didn't have any children but George used to tell everyone we had fun trying."


When George retired, they moved to Taupo where the couple had a holiday home. George bought a boat and they used to spend a lot of time "cruising" around the lake.

They also did a lot of travelling, taking in Hawaii, Norfolk Island and Stewart Island.

Stewart Island stood out to Olive. She and George stayed in a "posh place like Huka Lodge" that was isolated and far from the town.

Every Christmas, Olive and George did a tour of the country.

Olive has been at Somervale for 30 years. George passed away a few years after they moved in.

She said she enjoys the companionship and how "you can be your own person" at the village.

"I didn't know anyone when I came here but I've made a lot of friends."