Hula your way to 102

South Waikato News - - Front Page - LUKE KIRKEBY

Clara Hardy is now one of New Zealand’s old­est peo­ple af­ter cel­e­brat­ing her 102nd birth­day.

But don’t be think­ing the Toko­roa woman is too old to do any­thing.

‘‘I love danc­ing the Hawai­ian hula,’’ she said with a cheeky smile.

‘‘I have al­ways loved danc­ing. At school we started out with old English danc­ing and I was brought up in Ro­torua where there were al­ways Maori with their haka.’’

‘‘My fa­ther also played the piano very nicely and my mother sang quite nicely so I was brought up around that sort of thing. I still love it,’’ she said.

With im­mac­u­lately man­i­cured pink nails, Clara waits for her fam­ily to ar­rive to cel­e­brate the spe­cial day at Vic­to­ria Place rest home where she has lived for just un­der a year.

A fancy birth­day cake’s been made with green ic­ing, her favourite colour. Bal­loons have also been put up and the ta­bles have been set com­plete with ta­ble cloths and folded nap­kins. Ev­ery­one’s excited.

Apart from be­ing a lit­tle over­whelmed by all the at­ten­tion, Clara’s look­ing for­ward to cel­e­brat­ing.

‘‘I feel pretty good re­ally but I never thought I would live this long,’’ she laughed.

‘‘I am the small­est of the en­tire fam­ily. I had two brothers and they passed away when they were in their 40s so no one knows why I’ve lived so long.’’

‘‘I just worked in ho­tels for a year and then ran a con­fec­tionary shop and tea­rooms for sev­eral years in Ro­torua.’’

‘‘I then got mar­ried and had two chil­dren. That’s the story of it re­ally,’’ she said.

Although she couldn’t pin­point ex­actly what’s kept her go­ing, she said hav­ing a sense of hu­mour was a must.

‘‘Oh heav­ens yes, you most def­i­nitely have to have a sense of hu­mour. It is quite the thing with half the staff, we don’t say hello, we just [hula hand wave],’’ she laughed.

‘‘I have just en­joyed life re­ally. I worked hard in my time but I have al­ways had lots of fun.’’

Vic­to­ria Place ac­tiv­i­ties co­or­di­na­tor Lynette Mudge said Clara was an in­spi­ra­tion.

‘‘She still dances away so we are all jeal­ous. We’d like to think we could be as fit as her at 102,’’ she said.

‘‘The fa­cil­ity she came from didn’t let her mo­bilise so since she has been here she has been al­lowed to run around and get up to mis­chief and we get cheeky.’’

‘‘It is amaz­ing hav­ing some­body that is very ag­ile at that age and still find­ing joy in life,’’ she said.

The old­est liv­ing New Zealan­der on record is Made­line An­der­son who is 110 years old, while the old­est ever was Florence Finch who died in 2007 at 113 years.

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