Waikato's oldest woman, 108, says longevity comes naturally
Gwen McGruer was surrounded by some of the great loves of her life yesterday - family, friends, music and flowers - in a fitting tribute to her 108th birthday.
Mrs McGruer is believed to be the oldest woman in the Waikato, perhaps New Zealand, and was up bright and early for her special birthday party. "I had a lovely day, yes," she said.
Born in Karangahake in 1904, Mrs McGruer has lived through a lot. A brief list includes two world wars, a depression, and women first becoming eligible to stand for Parliament. She also married and had two children.
Through it all Mrs McGruer has been a picture of good health. Although she is a little hard of hearing, she is in otherwise fine form, spending her days in her Te Aroha nursing home singing and listening to music.
"She has a very sharp mind and keeps all of us on her toes," says the executive nurse manager of the Kenwyn Nursing Home, Katherine McLeod.
"She is all smiles and elegance and is very musical. She can't play the piano anymore but she still loves to sing."
Mrs McGruer was treated to a special morning tea for her big day, and family from overseas sent her 108 carnations - her favourite flower - for her room.
She is notoriously tight-lipped when it comes to the secret of a long and healthy life, Mrs McLeod says.
"She is always being asked and she never gives it up."
But it is not every day that a lady turns 108, and Mrs McGruer revealed her secret yesterday: "You just have to live your life."
IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE
In Gwen McGruer 's lifetime: The New Zealand rugby team became known as the All Blacks (1905)
Ernest Rutherford awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1908)
Conscription introduced (1916)
Napier earthquake kills 256 people (1931)
Food rationing introduced (1942)
Protest campaign against exclusion of Maori players from rugby tour of South Africa (1948)
Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay first to climb Mt Everest (1953)
Te Atairangi Kaahu becomes first Maori Queen (1966)
The Waitangi Tribunal is established (1975)
Saturday trading partly legalised (1980)