Hula your way to 102
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.