No stopping NZ's oldest on her 110th birthday

KAY BLUNDELL AND DEIDRE MUSSEN
Last updated 05:00 24/05/2014
Peg Griffin
ROSS GIBLIN/ Fairfax NZ

HERE'S TO 110 YEARS: Kapiti Coast woman Peg Griffin celebrates at a pre-birthday party in advance of turning 110 tomorrow.

Peg Griffin
THE GOOD OLD DAYS: A lithogram of Peg Griffin as a child.

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Staying busy is the trick to longevity, according to the Kapiti Coast woman believed to be New Zealand's oldest living resident.

"I did what I had to do and was always busy," whispers a sprightly Peg Griffin, who turns 110 tomorrow.

It must be a family trait. Her 104-year-old sister, Betty Fleming, hopes to fly over from Blenheim to attend a lunch for about 50 family and close friends tomorrow.

Celebrations of Griffin's impressive milestone started with a pre-birthday afternoon tea yesterday at Kapiti Rest Home in Paraparaumu, where she has lived for the past three years.

Renowned for her sense of humour, when asked what she thought of being the country's oldest, she replied: "Time they pushed me over the edge."

There was nothing wrong with her appetite either, as she tucked heartily into her chocolate birthday cake. "Yum, yum," she added, eyes twinkling.

The champagne went down a treat, a special tipple for her and fellow residents.

A handwritten card from Prime Minister John Key offered warm congratulations for her "wonderful achievement", along with cards from the governor-general and the Queen.

Griffin, born Eleanor Wilson and nicknamed Peg, grew up in Feilding and had three children, five grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

A bit hard of hearing but still sharp as, she gets around on a walker and still plays bowls, skittles and bobs.

One of New Zealand's first Karitane nurses, she smoked until her late 80s and worked hard bringing up and fending for three children on her own.

Incredibly, she says she has never taken any medication.

Southland woman Maudie Wilson was believed to be the oldest person living in New Zealand until she died aged 110 in October last year.

Playing bobs earlier this week with a hockey stick, Griffin told her daughter, Meg, 69, "I can't see the ball", before walloping two strikes, sending the ball flying and scooping the second highest score. "The whole lounge clapped. It was a bloody hoot," her daughter said.

According to UN statistics for 2005-10, Japan has the world's highest expectancy (82.6 years), followed by Hong Kong (82.2 years) and Iceland (81.6 years).

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- The Dominion Post

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