102-year-old immigrant docks in NZ (+video)

01:43, Jan 31 2009
A NEW LIFE: 102-year-old Eric King-Turner and his wife Doris arrive in Wellington from England to start a new life here. Eric is New Zealand's oldest immigrant.

New Zealand's oldest immigrant  - sprightly 102-year-old Eric King-Turner -  has arrived in his new home country on-board The Saga Rose cruise ship this morning.

Accompanied by his Kiwi-born wife Doris, 88,  Mr King-Turner said he wouldn't have missed his early morning view of Wellington harbour "for all the tea in China".

"I'm delighted to be here. My wife lived with me for 13 years in Britain so I thought she might be getting homesick."

Mr King-Turner will set up a new home in his wife's hometown of Nelson where he intends to indulge his passion for fly fishing.

Waiting to meet her mother and step-father at Wellington wharf today, Gabrielle King-Turner said no one was more surprised by the media attention than Mr King-Turner.

"From the letters we've had from them they were enjoying the trip and will be glad when all the media attention is over."


She said her step-father was a modest, intelligent man with "highly developed human virtues" and people who spend time with him "forget the age thing".

Mr King-Turner enjoys fishing and cricket, has a great interest in learning and fits in anywhere, his step-daughter said.

Around seven family members had gathered at the wharf to welcome Eric and Doris and the whole family was excited to catch up with them, Ms King-Turner said

"The family are really quite protective and will be protecting our elderly parents from all the public attention."

Mr King-Turner has a nephew and "a couple of distant cousins" in Britain.

Mrs King-Turner has five children and nine grandchildren.

When asked about his longevity Mr King-Turner always claims to have no idea why he has lived so long, Ms King-Turner said.

"I have noticed he's a modest eater, he does everything in moderation. He is very well organised and has a great short term memory. If I lost my car keys he's the first person I'd ask and I'm exactly half his age."

The family would not say where Mr and Mrs King-Turner would be living, but it is understood Mrs King-Turner owns a house in Nelson. Mr King-Turner was Surgeon Commander on the aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable during World War 2 and helped to save New Zealand soldiers, Ms King-Turner said.

Before he left Britain Mr King-Turner told the Daily Mail newspaper he liked New Zealand because it was not as crowded as Britain and "the weather is certainly better".

"I'm an Englishman through and through and there will be things I miss such as my friends but New Zealanders are very easy to get on with," he said.

"It's a wonderful new adventure and I would say to anyone that if you want to do something you should do it straight away while you can. What's important is that when I'm 105 I don't want to be thinking 'I wish I had moved to the other side of the world when I was 102'."

Mrs King-Turner met her husband, both widowed, while researching her ancestry. Despite sharing the same last name they were not related but decided to meet anyway.

Mr King-Turner's first wife Joan died in 1991 and Doris's first husband in 1993.

The couple toured New Zealand together for two weeks when they realised they were in love and decided to marry.

- with NZPA

The Dominion Post