100 years with God all the way

Central Leader - - News - By Janie Smith

Looking back on a cen­tury of life, Noreen An­drews has many sto­ries to smile at.

The Hills­bor­ough woman cel­e­brates her 100th birth­day on Sun­day, an age she never imag­ined reach­ing.

“I left it to the Lord, he knows what to do,” she says.

Known to every­one as Ma, Mrs An­drews was born in Have­lock South on Novem­ber 9, 1908, the sec­ond of seven chil­dren and the only girl.

De­spite be­ing sur­rounded with broth­ers, she learned to keep them in line.

“They had to do what they were told.”

Her fa­ther farmed in Pelorus Sound and she would take up the ri­fle and hunt the wild pigs that ter­rorised their lambs.

“I wasn’t a bad shot,” she says.

She spent much of her time looking af­ter her broth­ers and help­ing to find food for the fam­ily, and when out mus­ter­ing would of­ten take a younger brother with her.

Two broth­ers were sleep­ing in her bed­room one night when a draft blew the cur­tain into a can­dle and caught fire, but she man­aged to get her­self and the youngsters out.

As a teenager she worked for her grand­mother, milk­ing cows, chop­ping fire­wood and churn­ing but­ter.

She was mar­ried in the 1920s and had two chil­dren but the union didn’t last.

When her daugh­ter Pearl Wood­side was a teenager, Mrs An­drews went to work in a rain­coat fac­tory in Palmer­ston North to pay her child’s board­ing school fees.

Walk­ing home alone one night, she was ac­costed by a group of men and one grabbed her arm and wouldn’t let go.

Hav­ing prac­tised her punch­ing on a speed­ball as a teenager, she waited for the man to move into the right po­si­tion be­fore let­ting fly with her fists.

“I’d been taught to use my feet and hands. I let him have it.”

She left the hap­less fel­low col­lapsed and moan­ing in the arms of his stunned friends.

“I never had any more trou­ble,” she says.

Mrs An­drews re­turned to Pelorus Sound to work on her brother’s farm and also trav­elled to Aus­tralia and Tas­ma­nia for a time, do­ing what­ever jobs she could get.

Dur­ing her life she has op­er­ated a pit saw, run mes- sages in a row­boat, helped build houses and a YWCA camp, ploughed fields with a trac­tor and three-horse team and made stuffed toys.

She says God is the se­cret to her long life.

“He was with me all the way.”

Mrs An­drews is a parish- ioner at the Brent­wood Sev­enth-day Ad­ven­tist Church, which is hold­ing a party for her on Sun­day.

Mrs Wood­side says her mother is a strong lady.

“She’s an all-rounder, that’s for sure. She can put her hand to most things.”

Her mother had re­mained ac­tive un­til suf­fer­ing sev­eral health prob­lems in Au­gust, she says.

Mrs An­drews has five grand­chil­dren, sev­eral great-grand­chil­dren and a great-great-grand­child.

Her fam­ily will cel­e­brate her birth­day with her on Sun­day.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Colour­ful cen­tury: Noreen An­drews re­flects on a cen­tury of life.

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