New Zealand's oldest woman has turned 108.

Annie Mason, who celebrated her landmark birthday at her rest home in Christchurch yesterday, was born under the reign of Edward VII, before the sinking of the Titanic and the outbreak of World War I.

One of more than 500 centenarians, according to the Census, she told Fairfax her secret for a long life was to stay unfazed by whatever comes your way.

"Whatever life throws at you, you work your way through it. Happy marriages always help too."


Mrs Mason grew up in London, an early life she recalled with fondness for the happy times. But there were tough moments too, of starvation and poverty.

Growing up in a family of eight, money was tight and her mother would pawn items to pay for food.

She remembers when the Titanic sank and her father joining up in World War I.

Fairfax reported Mrs Mason left school at 14 to work alongside her mother as a milliner.

Mrs Mason's husband died in 1981.

In Britain during World War II she worked for the Women's Voluntary Service that helped repatriated people.

Mrs Mason lived in her own home until she was 105 and is now resident in The Oaks Rest Home and Village.

She has three children.