It was a special day for Fred Brooker on Friday, one that not many people will get to.

The Waikanae Lodge resident celebrated his 100th birthday among family, friends and staff with a roast lunch, cake, speeches and even a bagpipe performance.

It was a special time for Fred who said the celebration was a marvellous way to celebrate his 100 years.

Born in 1918 on July 13, Fred grew up in Wellington, attended Wellington College and Victoria University, gaining his masters and training as a primary school teacher.


With World War II raging he enlisted in the Air Force and trained as a navigator in Canada and the United Kingdom before being posted to a Beaufighter squadron in the Far East.

He was in Burma when the war ended.

Fred then returned to New Zealand after three years away and began teaching in Wellington schools.

He spent time overseas holding teaching and education positions in Rarotonga, Borneo and Western Samoa bringing education to schools in remote areas.

Speaking at the birthday celebration Fred's main message to everyone was to remain active.

"Sometimes people ask me what the great secret to living to be 100 is.

"I say, I don't think there's any great secret but somethings do contribute.

"You've got to keep yourself active — mentally, physically and socially."

Fred keeps active interacting with his son, reading, doing tapestry, Tai Chi, wrestling with cryptic crosswords and meeting people.

"I think one of the sad things about our lives is that they're becoming less personal.

"Computers and cell phones are taking over and I don't think that kids are interacting enough and learning social skills.

"When I was teaching primary schools I loved making my class like a big family and interacting in that way.

"It's a shame because social interaction is very important and it's becoming less and less."

Fred told a story of doing his shopping the day before his 100th birthday.

He went to the supermarket, library, bank and a coffee shop and at all the places people recognised him and knew that it was his 100th birthday the next day.

"I like to go to the supermarket and talk to the checkout girl, same with the bank.

"I like to get my money from the teller rather than pressing buttons.

"Word gets around somehow.

"All these people were so nice to me — there are some very nice people around if you would only get to know them."

This is the social interaction Fred was talking about.

"I've had a rough life in many ways, lots of ups and downs but I can't say it hasn't been interesting."