One hundred years ago today, Dorothy Robinson was born in England.

Her parents would have wished for her a good life, and today she can report she has been lucky enough to enjoy a century of just that.

She had a happy childhood in Paeroa before meeting future husband Harold Robinson in the late 1930s.

Their marriage plans were delayed by the outbreak of war - "very inconvenient" - which sent her fiance overseas to serve.

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She joined the Women's Auxiliary Air Force and became a wireless operator in Auckland, translating messages into Morse code.

The couple married on a showery day in 1941 on one of his last trips on leave to New Zealand before he was sent to Europe.

Their first son was born three months before he arrived home for good.

The pair settled in Tokoroa, running a fabric retail store together and raising their two children.

They did a little travel, played a little bridge and eventually retired together at Pillans Point in Tauranga.

They were married more than 70 years when he died. There was no great secret to the success of their relationship, she said.

"We just seemed to be good with each other. You can't account for that sort of thing, it's written in the stars."

Robinson continued to play cards - "I enjoy the company of like-minded friends" - and has helped knit dolls or whatever was needed for various charitable causes.

She was very proud of her family saying "they have all done very well for themselves and become good citizens".

'Look at the camera': Dorothy Robinson with three of her 14 great-grandchildren. From left Leo Martyn, 3, Rafe Martyn, 1, and Piper Lang, 8. Photo/George Novak
'Look at the camera': Dorothy Robinson with three of her 14 great-grandchildren. From left Leo Martyn, 3, Rafe Martyn, 1, and Piper Lang, 8. Photo/George Novak

"All in all, I have had a very happy life," Robinson told the Bay of Plenty Times from her apartment at Mount Maunganui retirement village Ocean Shores yesterday.

"I have been very lucky. Not too many things went wrong," she said with a bright smile.

"My philosophy has always been that you take what comes when it comes."

She credited "good genes", mostly, for her longevity, with a nod to healthy eating and living as well as not being much of a drinker.

Her family celebrated the birthday with a big lunch on Saturday at Robinson's favourite spot, Thai 2 Go in Mount Maunganui.

Granddaughter Kirsten Lang said more than 40 people came, including both Robinson's children and all but a couple of her grandchildren (x7) and great-grandchildren (x14).

She came up from Wellington and others, including Lang's sister Kylie Martyn, came from as far afield as Australia.

Lang said Robinson was "not a woman who likes a fuss" but "nana" had been a fixture at the big moments in all their lives - graduations, weddings and more - so they wanted to make her 100th special.

"She's a very loving, caring person. She's very understated but a sharp card player and she has always been good at crafts.

Lang's sister Kylie Martyn said her nana had "always seemed younger than her years".

"She has a good sense of humour - really very witty."

Today the village planned to celebrate Robinson's birthday with a big morning tea.