100 years with God all the way
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.
Colourful century: Noreen Andrews reflects on a century of life.