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New Zealand's oldest person, Florence Finch, died in Hastings last night aged 113.

Mrs Finch died of cardio respiratory failure at Colwyn House in Hastings. Although her health - particularly her hearing - had been slowly deteriorating for the past few years, she required very little medical attention until recently, her GP Peter Foley said.

"She had very good health throughout her life," he said. "She'll be in a happy place now. Every night she said her prayers out loud."

Dr Foley and his father, Tony Foley, were her GPs for the past 40 years.

Dr Tony Foley attributed her good health to being "a very strong-willed, independent woman".

Mrs Finch, who was born in England on December 22, 1893, married Charles Finch, a dockworker and stevedore, in 1915.

Four years later they had twins, Charles and Ellen.

During World War 1, she helped assemble planes for the Royal Flying Corp.

In 1964, when Mr Finch died, Mrs Finch decided to explore the world.

At the age of 76 she stitched all her money into her hat, and headed for New Zealand with daughter Ellen and son- in-law Peter, where she has remained.

Mrs Finch is survived by her daughter Ellen, who resides in a Hawke's Bay rest home, and her grandchild and great great-grandchildren, who live in England.