Dannevirke man John Bray believes good tucker and the odd beer have helped him reach his 100th birthday.

John, a resident of Eileen Mary Residential Care Centre, celebrated the milestone on Friday with family and friends.

Getting to be 100 was for John a case of "good tucker, not too much rubbish and not too much alcohol."

"I've never had anything stronger than whiskey and I've probably not had more than seven glasses of it. I don't like it much.


"But if you have a beer you wouldn't go too far wrong, but not too much."

John Bray who celebrated his 100th birthday on Friday with the card he received from Queen Elizabeth among others. Photo / Sue Emeny
John Bray who celebrated his 100th birthday on Friday with the card he received from Queen Elizabeth among others. Photo / Sue Emeny

John says exercise helps too and a daily walk around the rest home is part of his routine and keeps him sprightly.

John says the one thing that has slowed him down is his failing eyesight through macular degeneration.

"It's a blimmin' nark.

"I used to have a big garden but it started getting oxalis and I couldn't see it to get it out."

His eyesight also led to him giving up driving at the age of 90.

"I gave my car to my daughter Joan then. it's still going."

John lived in Dannevirke's Tennyson St for 48 years but moved into Eileen Mary seven years ago.


Judging by the number of residents and staff calling into his room to wish him happy birthday John has made plenty of friends in his new home.

"You can never have too many friends, but one enemy is one too many.

"I've met some wonderful people over the years.

"On the whole New Zealanders are pretty good people."

Ernest John Bray was born in Stratford to Albert and Minnie Bray who lived and farmed in Whangamomona. When Albert died in 1923, leaving Minnie with 10 children, she moved to Dannevirke.

John left school at 15 and went to work for George Augustine, helping to do the milk run on his bike.

In 1939 he went scrub-cutting at Whetukura with his brother Charlie. He also did stumping and drainage work.

In 1942 John joined the Army and served in Fiji for four months and New Caledonia for two years.

After returning to New Zealand John was manpowered out of the army to do essential farm work.

In 1944 he married Edna Selina Plowman who he had met at dances.

John worked on farms around the district and at Porangahau before returning to Dannevirke to work at the gasworks.

In 1948 John went share-milking at Maharahara.

John retired from farming and moved to Dannevirke in 1964, but he continued working at the Woodware, milling and delivering timber until it closed in 1970. He then worked for the Dannevirke Borough Council.

John retired at 60, in 1979. Gardening took up a lot of time as did fishing and rabbit shooting.

After Edna died in 2001 John stayed in Tennyson St and enjoyed trips to the Office (the Dannevirke Services and Citizens Club) at 4pm most days, for a game of pool and a handle.

John bought his first accordion in around 1934 and he still enjoys playing it as well as listening to talking books.

John has four children, Richard, Allan, Joan and Dorothy, 11 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.