Sidney Ward's 100th birthday celebrations are far from the norm.
Sidney Ward, 100 on Sunday, has been basking in the memory of his sporting achievements with one of today's leading Wellington rugby players, and New Zealand Maori representative, Shannon Paku.
The feisty Featherston resident was in awe of meeting Paku - a player he follows closely - and Paku was eager to shake hands with a man "he hopes to aspire to".
"We can learn a lot from each other," Mr Ward said. "You have to back these young ones these days. I watch it all. You never forget."
He is fiercely independent in his small south Wairarapa cottage. Reputedly the oldest living Wellington rugby player, he hung up his boots in the mid-1930s.
He was a Wellington rep player first in 1931, and again with the Poneke club in 1933. He had a stint with Poverty Bay during the Depression, but hankered to return to Wellington.
A broken ankle while playing representative cricket for Wellington in 1934 ended his rugby dreams.
Paku presented him with a signed Wellington Lions jersey to celebrate his birthday milestone. "It was a real honour for me and it was a delight to meet a player from now that I have only seen on TV," Mr Ward said. "I have a shirt to wear when I watch, but it is pretty different from what we wore. It is still black and yellow, though."
Paku said he was glad to meet a man fit and independent at 100 who had played at the top level and was still passionate.
- © Fairfax NZ News