Turning 100 no big deal for Les
Despite turning 100 this month, Les Morice says he doesn’t think he is a celebrity.
“It’s the 100 years that’s the celebrity. I’m just an ordinary person,” he says.
He claims that turning 100 is down to a little bit of good management and “a lot of luck”.
“I’ve been lucky with my family — eight kids and no problems like people seem to have now — and lucky with a lot of other things in life. No major accidents or illnesses, a little bit of cancer but again I’m lucky because it hasn’t been too bad.”
Les has spent his lifetime in the farming sector, beginning as a shepherd on the East Coast where he met his Nga¯ ti Porou wife Kuini, nee Poutu, then farm managing in the Wairarapa, Southern Hawke’s Bay and farming in CHB.
Les retired just two years ago, leasing out his property, Hinerua Farm, but he still lives independently on the land he farmed for 20 years, driving himself into town when necessary.
That’s where Westpac Waipukurau branch manager Jacob Kennedy met Les, and on learning he had been a loyal bank customer since 1941, decided Westpac would make a presentation to Les to mark his 100 years.
“Our head office was delighted with the idea,” Jacob says, “So we were able to make two presentations — one from the Waipukurau branch and one from our national office. We couldn’t let this occasion go by without acknowledging it. Les has a strong relationship with our team — he’s a top guy and a great character.”
Les was joined at Westpac Waipukurau by family including three of his sons and one daughter.
Youngest daughter Margie Morice says Les and Kuini were “amazing parents”.
“He taught every one of us how to drive, and many of his grandchildren. You don’t just get a driving lesson you get a lesson on life and responsibility. He has always been staunch, no nonsense but very kind. He has always led by example.
“As a family I feel we got the best of the best, a Ma¯ ori Mum and a Pa¯ keha¯ father, with strong family values and a strong work ethic.”
Along with farming, Les had an active interest in training and working sheep dogs and enjoyed participating in dog trialling for many decades. Having grown up with horses as the main form of transportation, he formed an affinity for horses and often found himself the master of those no one else could ride. He also trained and mentored many young shepherds.
Les regards himself as a custodian of the land practicing pasture management, soil retention, water conservation and tree planting for future generations.
In the weekend Les hosted 250 of his family and friends to a 100th birthday celebration . . . something he had been planning and saving for since he turned 90, says Margie.
“His mother lived to 105, his aunts to 100. When Dad turned 90 he decided he was going to make it to 100 so he would start saving for a party.”
Les Morice was guest of honour at a presentation led by Westpac’s Waipukurau branch manager Jacob Kennedy .
From left: Great Granddaughter Te Ahi Cumming held by her mother, Les’ granddaughter Anna; grandson Tom Morice; eldest son Rusty Morice; Les Morice; fourth son Barry Morice; youngest daughter Margie Morice; Lianne Turner Morice and husband, Les’ youngest son Ivan Morice.