Labour’s oldest supporter
This year marks a century since two significant events - the Labour Party was formed and Mary Farmer was born.
In July 1916, the Labour Party was established. The following month, an Auckland grocer’s wife gave birth to baby girl, Mary, who would become the Labour Party’s longest surviving member.
Mary Farmer has lived through two world wars and the Great Depression. She still remembers the opening of the harbour bridge and attending the funeral of former Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage.
Yet in her 100 years, it’s the memory of the night she met Lewis Farmer that is etched into Mary’s mind.
‘‘The men stood at the door of the dance and they looked the girls over like a meat market,’’ she says. ’’I came across this wonderful looking man... but he went outside with someone else.’’
Mary says she ‘‘managed to get him eventually’’ and the postal officer worker became the 20-yearold’s husband. Together they went on to have eight children before Lewis died in 1994.
It was Lewis who Mary says persuaded her to join the Labour Party.
‘‘He always said, ‘ a working class person is better off with Labour’,’’ Mary says.
‘‘Later I learnt the truth of what he said... I’ve had a good life and a lot of it is due to the Labour Party.’’
Mary was made a life member the party three years ago and was presented with a gold badge by Labour MP Phil Goff.
Goff was also on hand to celebrate Mary’s 100th birthday at Selwyn Village in Pt Chevalier on August 6. Most of Mary’s children, 16 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren were able to attend the morning tea celebrations. The self-described royalist was also thrilled to receive a letter from Queen Elizabeth.
Mary’s daughter Catherine Farmer describes her as very independent, having lived on her own until six months ago.
It was the gruelling 19 steps up to the doorstep of her home which persuaded Mary to move into a retirement village.
Mary says she doesn’t have any secrets as to why she made it to a century.
‘‘You know what I honestly believe is that the Lord decides and when the time comes it happens.’’
Labour MP Phil Goff made an appearance at Mary Farmer’s 100th birthday celebrations at Selwyn Village.