January 15, 2010

NEW ZEALAND: Selwyn resthome centenarians are going strong

. AUCKLAND, New Zealand / Central Leader / What's On / January 15, 2010 By Janie Smith, Central Leader Living for a century is an impressive effort but three residents at the Selwyn Heights Retirement Village are years past the milestone and still going strong. Julia Winifred Turner, known as Win, celebrated her 106th birthday on Tuesday and there are more celebrations at the village to come. Zika Baker will turn 104 on March 15 and Herbert James will turn 101 on May 3. All three live in the resthome at the village, something nurse Paula Smith says is rare. LONG LIFE: From left: Win Turner celebrates her 106th birthday while Zika Baker will turn 104 in March and Herbert James will turn 101 in May. Photo: Jason Oxenham "You don’t often see people that age in the resthome. Usually by the time they turn 100 they are pretty frail and end up in the hospital." Not only do the centenarians not yet need the 24-hour medical care of the hospital, they are all still able to walk. Mrs Baker was even living on her own in an apartment at the village until the age of 102. Her daughter, grandchildren and great-grandchildren visit her from Christchurch. Mr James, a former army warrant officer, was born in Cardiff, Wales, and served in both the British and New Zealand armies before retiring. His son and six grandchildren visit from Mangakino and Mr James says there is no real secret to his longevity. As for Mrs Turner, family members say she swears by taking bee pollen and swimming in the ocean every day no matter what the season, which she did for most of her life. Born Julia Simpson in Kuaotunu on the Coromandel Peninsula, she was the third youngest of nine children. Her family say she calls herself the "last of the Mohicans" because she is the only surviving sibling, although others also reached the impressive ages of 99 and 103. A trip to the United Kingdom when she was 27 started her love of travelling, which she has done on and off during her life, including having to renew her passport at 95 for a trip to Melbourne. Mrs Turner worked as a governess, teacher and a nurse and at 38 married Henry Turner. She was 40 years old when her first son Henry was born and his brother Robert arrived nearly two years later. She has three grandchildren and a great-grandchild is due in March. Henry describes his mother as "pretty happy" and his wife Ann says Mrs Turner is the centre of the family. Her sons and their families celebrated her birthday with her on Tuesday. [rc] © 2009 Fairfax New Zealand Limited