Richard Rowe is 100, and as blunt as a broken corkscrew.

You could call him Richard or Dick, but most call him Mr Rowe.

So what's Mr Rowe's key to living such a long and happy life?

"Booze, plenty of sleep and make sure you marry a good cook," he says without flinching.

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Richard Rowe tells reporter Georgia May his secret to long life. Photo / Paul Taylor
Richard Rowe tells reporter Georgia May his secret to long life. Photo / Paul Taylor

Rowe celebrated his 100th birthday at a property near Clive yesterday afternoon, surrounded by friends and family.

The first and most important item on the agenda for the centenarian was a ride in a Rolls Royce around the orchards.

"I just love old cars and I'm always wanting to know what's going on in the planting side of things," he said.

Rowe didn't need reading glasses to read his grand collection of birthday cards, which included congratulations from the Queen, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy.

He read his birthday messages aloud, remarking that the Governor-General needed to improve her handwriting.

Even though special messages reached Rowe from high places, it was the well-wishes from the people in the room that were the most important to him.

"I didn't even know I had any friends and it's just lovely to see them."

The war veteran and former winemaker told the stories of some of his favourite memories with a remarkably sharp wit and sense of humour.

"I won the war. Well sort of. I just picked up a big bomb and threw it at Hitler."

100-year-old Richard Rowe with Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst. Photo / Paul Taylor
100-year-old Richard Rowe with Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst. Photo / Paul Taylor

Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst made a guest appearance for Rowe's memorable day and presented him with a coat of arms.

"It's a very special gift from the people of Hastings to celebrate your birthday and to celebrate you being a wonderful citizen."

Rowe humbly replied he'd only been a good citizen because he had spent the past 30 years "sitting on my bum".

"Well that's fine, it means you've been behaving yourself," the mayor said.

"You served out people in the war and you won a special medal for a special wine that you made when you grew up in Te Mata Rd."

Rowe took over his father's winery, T&V wines, after the war and has always had a passion for the industry.

Daughter Sally Milne said it was an incredibly emotional day as they celebrated her father's birthday.

"He's just full of stories and to this day I'm still finding out more and more about him. I didn't realise how emotional I would get until today. It's just a very special occasion."