Ella Wilson's secrets to a long life are simple - everything in moderation and count
your blessings.

The Rotorua woman turned 103 on Wednesday at The Gardens Care Home in Pukehangi, surrounded by flowers and cards from well-wishers.

"I cannot believe that I am 103. I am so well - no pains, no aches and I'm very well cared here at The Gardens. The staff are just wonderful.

"My family are supportive, and this year I have been blessed with a dear little girl and a dear little boy making this my fifth generation."

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Born in Auckland, and having lived in Hamilton, Mrs Wilson moved to Rotorua four years ago.

"I've been comfortable and made a lot of really, really good friends here."

A luncheon was held at the care home for Mrs Wilson on Friday, with other members of The Gardens Care attending and a band playing.

Mrs Wilson said looking back; it wasn't possible to reach "this ripe old age" without having some hurdles to mount.

103-year-old Ella Wilson in her room at The Gardens Care Home in Pukehangi. Photo/Ben Fraser
103-year-old Ella Wilson in her room at The Gardens Care Home in Pukehangi. Photo/Ben Fraser

"We've done that and eventually got over them and got on our feet, but at times it has not been easy."

She said she was disappointed to learn her hearing and sight had deteriorated.

"This means I cannot read or write. I wondered what I could do in my spare time, and so as I had done a lot of knitting and crocheting, I do knitting. I have made several scarves that my family have appreciated."

During her lifetime she said she had seen "considerable changes."

"I was born during the big flu epidemic, it was all over New Zealand, and then we had a very heavy depression, and then we had the Second World War which my husband went overseas."

Daughter Joan Murphy, 82, who lives in Rotorua, said her mother was an "incredible woman with a fabulous memory," who still makes her bed daily.

"I take her shopping, and we go into town for about three hours. She only has a walking stick, and she doesn't use the walker provided for her," Mrs Murphy said.

Mrs Murphy said herself and her two brothers, John Wilson, who lives in Auckland, and Graham (Jim) Wilson who has died, were lucky as children being brought up in a loving home.

Mrs Wilson's nephew Gavin Harrison and his wife Lyndie were over from Australia to celebrate with "Aunty Ella." They had also attended Mrs Wilson's 100th birthday at the Distinction Hotel.

Milly Tapa, a caregiver at The Gardens, said Mrs Wilson was an inspiration.

This was echoed by administrator Rachel Gulley.

"She's most the amazing lady I've ever known, especially for her age."

And having reached such an incredible age, Mrs Wilson is looking forward.

"I find that every day I look forward to tomorrow and wonder what tomorrow will bring. I count my blessings and get on with it."