Con Beaven's top priority has always been her family - on April 5 she celebrated her 104th birthday with some of her nearest and dearest.

She had a balloon and flower filled birthday bash with a small group of family members in the Whanganui retirement village where she now lives.

Another event for family members from out of town is planned for the coming weekend.

Mrs Beaven's nieces, Jocelyn Winwood and Rae Decke from Tauranga were at the Summerset in the River City cafe to celebrate with "Aunty Con".


"We've come every year for the last six years for her birthday, thinking that each one was going to be her last," Ms Decke said.

"We're prepared to come until whenever."

The sisters were both born in Whanganui, but moved away early on.

"We still came down at least once a year with our parents and we always went to Aunty Con's," Ms Winwood said.

"Aunty Con had the family around every Friday night, for I don't know how many years, forever, and she was still doing the family meal right up until she was about 98."

The sisters were looking forward to sharing some cake with their aunty later in the day, as well as getting out to throw some bread to the ducks and swans.

Although Mrs Beaven's memory has faded, her family still share some of the key moments of her life.

Constance Brownlie was born on April 5, 1914, one of 13 children. Her family farmed near Fairlie in the South Island. The children rode to Skipton School on horseback, three or four on each horse, until later when the eldest sister was able to drive them in a Model T Ford.


Because of the Depression, an uncle helped the family move to a farm in Brunswick in 1928 and, aged 14, Con started at Wanganui Technical College. Her older brothers were in the forces and Con was her mother's helper until she began her nursing training at Hamilton Hospital, gaining the NZRN Brooch in 1944.

Con met Jack Beaven in 1946 and they married in December that year. Jack eventually bought the house he was born and raised in at 13 Boydfield St, Whanganui East. The couple had four children - Ian, Ray, Janet and Graham.

Con had an exceptional vegetable and flower garden. Her other interests included church groups at St Albans in Whanganui East. When St Albans closed, she joined Trinity Church and was involved with senior fellowship and the "soup kitchen". Con and Jack were also involved in YMCA activities, especially at Raukawa Camp.

After the children grew up and left home, Con learned to spin, knitting jerseys for her grandchildren. She had dabbled in sketching and watercolours in her earlier days and at the age of 82 she enrolled for art lessons. Unfortunately, soon after this her eyes began to fail but not before she produced some beautiful paintings.

After 62 years living in her Boydfield St home, Con moved to Summerset in the River City in 2012.

" 'Every day is an adventure' has always been Con's motto for life," daughter-in-law Lynne Beaven said.

"Looking for the small happinesses in life means an adventure can be an unexpected visitor calling.

"She is still happiest when the breeze is blowing in her hair, she can smell the roses and hear the birds … providing the hearing aids are where they should be."