Having a strong faith and plenty of walking.

Those two things are the secret to living a long life, says Genevieve Hopkins.

She should know. She celebrated her 100th birthday last Wednesday, surrounded by family and friends at Maryann Home and Hospital where she now lives.

Taranaki is a great place to live, she says, and again, she speaks from experience. Other than two years in Whanganui while she was training as a nurse, Genevieve has lived her whole life in Eltham and Stratford.

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"It's always been home to me. I can't imagine being somewhere else."

Genevieve's birthday was celebrated with an afternoon tea with family and friends.
Genevieve's birthday was celebrated with an afternoon tea with family and friends.

Genevieve lived and worked at the Stratford hospital until she got married to Frank in 1948.

The happy couple moved into a cottage in Eltham and owned a grocery store there.
They had three children, and Genevieve stayed home with them. Sadly, after 18 years of marriage, Frank died, leaving Genevieve a single parent.

Genevieve was a nurse at Stratford Hospital, pictured here in her early days of nursing.
Genevieve was a nurse at Stratford Hospital, pictured here in her early days of nursing.

She went back to nursing and continued until she retired. She is now patron of the Stratford Hospital trust and says she has never regretted choosing nursing as a career, despite the fact it wasn't her first choice.

"I wanted to work in the missions originally, but then I got sick and thought I wouldn't be able to, so I trained as a nurse so I could still help people."

When Genevieve talks of getting sick, she is referring to getting tuberculosis, which meant she spent six months in a sanitarium in Otaki.

One of Genevieve's daughters says this photo captures her mum
One of Genevieve's daughters says this photo captures her mum "to a tee" - always busy helping in the kitchen. Never resting.

Despite now being retired, Genevieve is never still, says Joyce Leach, one of her daughters.

"She is always up and doing things, going for walks, doing the dishes, helping in the kitchen. She likes to be busy."

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With nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren now in her family, there is plenty to keep her busy!

Genevieve with her youngest great grandchild, who has been named after her.
Genevieve with her youngest great grandchild, who has been named after her.