Helen Parsons still goes to her mum for advice and a listening ear - and she gets the wisdom of 103 years on earth.

Linda Chambers was all smiles on her 103rd birthday in Paeroa when she celebrated in special company at Ohinemuri Rest Home and Village on July 21.

"I feel very blessed," Linda says of reaching her milestone.

As for how she feels in her body, she said: "Past my best."


Daughter Helen, of Waihi, says her mum had a wonderful day, with cake and a visit from Hauraki Mayor Toby Adams.

Linda's birthday was relatively quiet in comparison to her 100th.

That was celebrated in Papakura and marked by a large gathering of family and friends followed by a church service with the Salvation Army that included performances of Pacific Island dance and song, and an unforgettable Maori haka.

Linda served in the Salvation Army for most of her life, and when she retired from teaching junior soldiers she was the oldest serving junior-serving sergeant in the world.

"Hard work and mum go hand in hand. She doesn't give up anything easily," says Helen.

Linda says life should be better for young people today than when she was growing up, but it was important that youngsters felt heard and wanted.

"I think kindness is the most important thing. They're a bit nervous and you have to get that away from them, they need to know there's support there."

Asked how she came to be so known for her work with young people, Linda said: "I would just talk to them."


Helen says Linda has lost confidence in recent years after a few falls.

"But she takes part in every conversation though she's no longer the instigator."

She followed no special diet or exercise regime to reach her milestone.

"It was meat and three veges all her life."

While Linda's mother lived to only her sixth decade, her grandmother lived to 100.

"She's always been a pearl of wisdom and still is. Even now I can run something by mum. It's pretty amazing," says Helen.


Born in 1917, Linda's birthday is recorded in history as the day that British cargo liner SS Paddington was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine, and the day an aircraft engine manufacturer changed to its current company name, BMW.