'Wild women' key to longevity, says 103-year-old
What's the secret to living a long and happy life? Geoff Howlett, who celebrated his 103rd birthday yesterday with a spot of indoor bowls and a party, will tell you it is "women, wild women, that's the secret".
"That and a nip or two of whisky each night before bed. Well, why not? A man has to have his vices."
Mr Howlett is a popular and much-loved figure at Hamilton City Bowls Club, where he still takes part in a game or two.
"I still enjoy it, it is great fun and I love all my friends that play here with me," he said.
Born in Auckland in 1909, Mr Howlett's family moved to Hamilton when he was young boy.
After leaving school at 14 - his family needed extra money so he took a job making false teeth - he soon followed his heart and went to work on a farm, resettling in Hamilton when he was 24.
"Oh my yes, things have changed in Hamilton. Quite a lot. The traffic for one, it wasn't always so bad as it is now," he said.
Mr Howlett represented New Zealand in polo in the 50s, and only took up bowls when he was no longer able to play the sport on horseback.
He also loves his rugby, and says his passion for sport has kept him fit and healthy all these years.
"I love my sport - sport is my life really," he said.
"I believe that is the real secret to living a long life. It keeps your mind healthy, sport does.
"I've always loved it since I was a child.
"And I believe doing honest work and getting plenty of fresh air and sunshine is good for you."
Mr Howlett said he wanted nothing for his birthday yesterday other than to spend time with friends.
That wish was granted, with a large gathering of his closest friends and fellow bowlers gathering at Hamilton Workingmen's Club.
"I just hope to be around next year for the 104th," he said.