Elizabeth Forbes was born in 1913 — the year stainless steel was invented, an aircraft performed a loop-the-loop for the first time and US president Woodrow Wilson was inaugurated.

George V was on the British throne, Tsar Nicolas II was Russian Emperor and Kaiser Wilhelm II was ruler of the German Empire.

It was on July 18 that year that Elizabeth was born in Buckie, northern Scotland.

Now a resident at Te Puke Country Lodge, five generations of the family gathered to celebrate her 105th birthday last week.


Grandson Kieran Fitzsimmons says Elizabeth has found a new lease on life in the past year.

"She was almost bored with life a while ago, but she's had a new spurt of life and says she wants to live until she's 110," he says.

"She's made a lot of friends in the home and is looking forward to seeing all the great-grandchildren grow up."

It's rare, but she still manages the odd game of pool — something she is known for at the rest home.

"Woe betide anyone who challenges her, because she's still very good," says Kieran.

One of her other great loves — knitting — is also something she still does, and she has knitted all her great-grandchildren a teddy bear each.

"It's great that she is still able to do that — that's what she's been able to give back," says Kieran.

Elizabeth loves getting visitors and family from Auckland come down so see her whenever they can.

"It gives her a chance to put on her makeup and get herself ready for her visitors — it's very much a highlight for her — it sparks her up a bit.

"She loves her brandy and on her 100th birthday, she made lunch for the whole family and that's still a highlight of her memory and she wants to do it again."

At the time she was still living independently in Pāpāmoa.

Elizabeth and her late husband Alex left Scotland in 1958, but her Scottish heritage still burns strongly and a piper played for her birthday last week.

The Celtic trait of ginger hair is also something that has been passed down through the generations.

"The Scottish genes are still alive and active right through the family," says Kieran.

At Elizabeth's behest, many members of the family have made the pilgrimage back to Buckie, including all her grandchildren.

"One of the things they wanted to do is, they wanted to go to the place where she came from. We took them all the way to the top of Scotland and looked over the North Sea and visited the place where she grew up and visited her ancestors — her family up there.

"We did that at her request because she wanted us to go there."

Kieran says the changes Elizabeth has seen in her life are phenomenal.

"What she's seen — from horse and cart and electricity becoming widespread to telephones — all the inventions we take for granted, she has watched them come in to become a normal part of life."

Elizabeth and Alex first settled in Perth, Western Australia, after sailing halfway around the world with their two sons, Eric and Ken. They sailed from Southampton aboard the Castle Felice.

They bought land in Armadale where they had fruit and nut trees and turkeys, ducks and chickens, which were sent to market.

They stayed in Australia for three years then came to New Zealand.

They lived in a villa in Mount Eden, where Elizabeth took in boarders and also worked at the Bell Television factory.

She moved to Pāpāmoa in 1999 and hitched a ride in the removal truck that brought her furniture. She loved her garden and making jam and bottling and baking. She says now she likes to knit her teddies and "take it easy".