We're NZ's retirement centre

Last updated 13:23 01/10/2012

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100 birthdays: that calls for a party

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It was either a very flattering picture of Margaret Nicoll in the paper on Thursday, or she's really not a day over 80.

The picture was taken with three of her five boys on the day of her 100th birthday. She looked great.

She was born in 1912, was married in 1947, lost her husband in 1966 after only 19 years together and didn't get a chance to tune into the rest of the world until 1962 when the family bought their first radio.

She knitted and sewed for the family and worked as a domestic cleaner. There's a recipe for a good healthy life in all that, although her mum lived until she was 95 so there's something in the genes as well.

Marlborough might also have something in the air or the water - we seem to have a lot more people hitting the hundred mark than most other places.

It could also be that we've also got more older people. According to official stats for the region, the proportion of people older than 65 living here just keeps growing. It was 14.2 per cent of the population in 1996, 15.5 in 2001 and 16.2 per cent in 2006.

There has not been another census since 2006, but at that rate of growth, the proportion would have reached 17 per cent in 2011 and could be close to 20 per cent by 2020. That would mean one in five people living in Marlborough is over 65 - not old, but at least eligible for the pension.

It's also the highest proportion in the country; nearly 2 per cent higher than the so-called retirement city in the Bay of Plenty or in Taranaki.

No wonder some of the rest homes are expanding.

I had a few spare minutes yesterday so went down to our archives to see what was happening on September 26, 1912, the day Mrs Nicoll arrived in this world.

A house on two acres of land on Dillons Point Rd was selling for £640 (double that to get to dollars) and a seven-room house in Redwood St was advertised for rent at 11 shillings.

By comparison, three-year-old bullocks sold for £6 1s at the Blenheim stock sale, heifers were £4 16s, store sheep were 2s and fat merino wethers were 21s to 27s.

There had been a five degree frost the previous night and problems with drainage in Manse St had been raised at the council meeting by Councillor Griffiths.

Page 1 of the paper was all advertising, from the newest in stylish bonnets at H V Browne's millinery shop, to bricks on sale by J Verco at the Redwoodtown Brickworks.

Coincidentally, 1912 was also a leap year. The women hadn't gone overboard to assert their rights, but they had organised a social at the St Patricks Hall, including a euchre tournament.

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A letter to the editor complained about spending on the town baths.

The mayor had said that "if £200 were spent in improvements to the baths and one life were saved thereby, the money would be well spent".

The correspondent, who was anonymous, disagreed and saw no point in spending that much money on something that wasn't essential.

Some things haven't changed that much in 100 years, have they?

- The Marlborough Express

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