Most weeks for 50 years Jean Charlesworth has played golf at the small, slightly hilly Hikurangi Golf Club and that's is where she will celebrate her 92nd birthday.

It is hard to believe this sprightly, pretty woman is anywhere 92.

She plays golf on Tuesdays, badminton on Mondays and does ''light circuit'' at the gym on Thursdays.

Asked what her secret to long life, great looks and fighting fitness is, she quickly replies there is none. Well, perhaps the exercise, and eating a good meal of meat and veges every day, she suggests.


The day before the Advocate meets up with her, Jean passed her tests for her driver's licence. She is pleased she can still drive herself around in her smart red car. Life is far too full to expect others to keep up with her, she jokes.

She makes everything such such fun — take her routine at the gym every week:
''We start with aerobics, then do weights, then exercises to music. I just love music. I wouldn't say I'm a dancer but I do like jiggling about.''

Of her activities, though, she probably enjoys the weekly nine-hole golf most. There was a time, she is almost too shy to admit, she was quite good at the game.

''If I can't go because of the weather or some other thing, I just sulk and jump on my rebounder.''

Jean joined the Hikurangi club in 1968 after playing her first ever game.

''I just loved it. I had never had anything to do with sports before then. I couldn't imagine myself ever being interested.''

Hikurangi is a small club with few women members, and she would like to more join.

''It's bit hilly up there but it doesn't bother me. I just keep saying 'come on, keep up'.''

Jean and Bill Charlesworth and their four children left England for Australia — ''ten pounds for all of us'' — in the late 1950s, always planning it as a step to New Zealand.

It's almost a lifetime since she put down roots in Whangarei. Two of her three sons who grew up and went to school at Kamo still live nearby, and Jean has four grandchildren and three great grandchildren. Bill died 40 years ago.

In 1961 the family got off a ship in Auckland and caught a bus north. Friends had organised a rental house in Kamo and a job for Bill, a carpenter.

''They picked a great place for us,'' she says with great warmth.

''I've been happy here. I never, ever wanted to go back to England and never have, not even to visit.''

Jean expects there will be many memories and laughs at her birthday lunch at the Hikurangi Golf Club on Tuesday. But she's just as excited about celebrating her 50 years membership there as she is her 92nd birthday.