Birthday makes Mary 100 club mem­ber

The Leader (Nelson) - - OUT & ABOUT - JES­SICA LONG

Mary Pow­ell has dressed up to cel­e­brate her 100th birthday. She’s wear­ing a long navy blue skirt with a white, lace blouse.

A string of pearls sits around her neck and she’s pinned a pink camel­lia to her chest with a pretty silver brooch.

Pow­ell said join­ing the 100 club was a ‘‘good ex­cuse to buy new clothes’’, and the flower – found on her break­fast tray – was the per­fect ad­di­tion to her cel­e­bra­tory outfit.

She was the fifth to join the over 100s club at Ernest Ruther­ford Re­tire­ment Vil­lage on Mon­day. Her fel­low cen­te­nar­i­ans met Pow­ell in the din­ing area of the vil­lage and cho­rused ‘‘happy birthday’’ to her.

Ben Oakes, 101, Lorna Jar­rett, 100, Lorna Mof­fitt, 101, and Max Sladen, 100, shared some ad­vice for liv­ing to over 100.

‘‘Make the most of it,’’ Sladen said. ‘‘Spend as much time as you can with fam­ily,’’ Mof­fitt said. ‘‘Have a whisky,’’ Oakes said.

Pow­ell looked for­ward to lunch with her chil­dren. She said her fam­ily al­ready hosted a party at the week­end with about 60 guests, and cake. ‘‘It was won­der­ful,’’ she said.

Pow­ell was born in Rahui on the West Coast in 1917.

She was the youngest of seven sib­lings and grew up in Charleston where her par­ents ran the Wel­come Inn Ho­tel.

‘‘Our play­ground was the beach and we did a lot of rock climb­ing. We used to scale around the rocks like goats.’’

Her fu­ture hus­band, Alex, was a close friend of one of her broth­ers. They grew up to­gether, she said.

‘‘We loved the dances. We did them like they were go­ing out of fash­ion.’’

Pow­ell left Charleston for West­port at 17 years old. She picked up work as a ‘‘home helper’’ and mar­ried her child­hood sweet­heart on Septem­ber 2, 1939.

‘‘It was the day be­fore World War II started,’’ Pow­ell said.

Luck­ily Alex didn’t leave for war, she said. He was a farmer and a coal miner, ‘‘a real labourer’’.

The first time Alex was called up he was bat­tling pneu­mo­nia, but the sec­ond time he stayed to con­tinue his work in the mines.

Pow­ell said the war was tough. ‘‘They were very hard times.’’

She re­mem­bered cook­ing tins of bis­cuits and mak­ing clothes for her four chil­dren. Pow­ell said the most mem­o­rable Prime Min­is­ter for her was Wal­ter Nash, and the com­ple­tion of the road from Grey­mouth to West­port changed ev­ery­thing.

‘‘It was a great day when the buses could go through.’’


Lorna Jar­rett con­grat­u­lates Mary Pow­ell on turn­ing 100-years-old.

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