Home-cooked meals, eating chocolate and keeping active is Aileen McCarroll's secret to living to 100.

Aileen McCarroll (nee Newton) was born on February 18, 1919 in Wellington and spent her early life in Napier.

After school she worked as a hairdresser in Gisborne, Wellington and Westport.

Bob and Aileen McCarroll on their 70th wedding anniversary. Photo / Cathy Asplin
Bob and Aileen McCarroll on their 70th wedding anniversary. Photo / Cathy Asplin

At 21 Aileen met her future husband Robert (Bob) at a dance in Westport, although it took Bob several hours to pluck up the courage to talk to "the banker's daughter".

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After a three-month courtship Aileen and Bob were married in a Westport registry office.

In 1942 Bob joined the army and was later sent to war.

When he returned safely to New Zealand at the end of the war the young couple took on a farm at Westport.

They were allocated a Rehab Ballot farm — land provided by the government as economic compensation to help veterans return to work after their military service.

Home-cooked meals, eating chocolate and keeping active is Aileen McCarroll's secret to living to 100. Photo / Ian McCarroll
Home-cooked meals, eating chocolate and keeping active is Aileen McCarroll's secret to living to 100. Photo / Ian McCarroll

The farm, which was in the Buller Gorge, had no power or telephone and the couple had to flag down a train to get to the nearest town.

After five years there, Aileen had trouble with asthma from the climate, so they moved north to Kōrakonui where they bought 75 acres (30ha) and milked 65 cows.

The couple moved to a lifestyle block in Te Rahu Road in the 1970s, and then to Te Awamutu in 2000.

Over the years Aileen's hobbies have included dancing, croquet, cooking and thoroughbred racehorses.

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Bob was a keen horse trainer in earlier years and the couple had shares in a number of successful horses.

They have three sons, Brian, Doug and Ross, six grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.

At the time of Bob's death three years ago the couple had been married 74 years.

Aileen celebrated her 100th birthday surrounded by loved ones at the Te Awamutu RSA on Monday.