It's a birthday that comes only once a century.
And when Fred Thomson turned 100 on July 15 he celebrated with a week busier than most lived by people half his age.
“Family came from Australia and some friends came from Abu Dhabi," he says.
"On the Tuesday I was a guest at a dinner party in Onehunga. It was a splendid reception.
“On Saturday there was a mini bowls tournament at the Mt Eden Bowling Club followed by a three-course dinner and a concert by a Maori group. They were very good," he says.
"Then on my actual birthday there was another tournament at the Bucklands Beach Bowling Club.
"I did quite well in that one and won a tray of meat.”
Mr Thomson has been playing bowls at the Mt Eden Bowling Club since 1961 and was filmed there for a TV segment in honour of his big birthday.
He was born in Nelson on July 15, 1912, the youngest of six children.
“My father was with the Lands and Survey Department so we moved around a lot.
"We eventually moved to Napier where he was Commissioner of Crown Lands and I attended Napier Boys High School.”
Mr Thomson worked as a junior clerk for a shipping company at the Napier port.
He moved to Auckland with his parents in 1932 after his father retired.
Mr Thomson earned £3 a week working at his uncle's Auckland business before getting a job with the tax department in Wellington.
“When war broke out I was classed for non-combat duties. I was engaged to be married and Neita was Auckland born and bred so I transferred back up here," he says.
"I worked for the Armed Forces Appeal Board for a time before getting a job with the Auckland Hospital Board where I stayed for the remainder of my working life.”
He started seeing his wife Neita after she approached him one day and asked him to go to a dance in St Heliers with her.
“I told her I wasn't a dancing man and I didn't know how I was going to get to St Heliers. She said she'd pick me up. She had an old 1926 Essex car.
"From then on we started going to things together and we got married in 1941.
"We weren't just man and wife, we were great friends.”
Mr and Mrs Thomson started travelling in 1975 and he has been overseas almost every year since then.
“Not this year though because I've had too much on. But I usually get away for the winter and travel.
"All the trips have been good and I've met a lot of people that I've formed good friendships with over the years.”
Neita died in 1991 shortly after the couple moved to Pakuranga from Mt Eden.
Mr Thomson has three sons - Douglas, Jim and Peter - and three grandsons.
Mr Thomson received official birthday cards upon reaching triple digits from the Queen, the governor-general, the prime minister and local MPs.
He says there's no trick to living a long life.
“I think it's just been chance.
"You've got to have a good sense of humour but the main thing is to wake up every morning.
"That's a big help.”
- © Fairfax NZ News
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