It’s not every day a Kiwi turns 111 but that’s exactly what Madeline Anderson did on Friday 4 May. We visited her on her birthday.
Cakes, cards and a family dinner were how New Zealand’s oldest person celebrated the milestone at Masterton, where she now lives with her daughter, Heather, and son-in-law, Robin.
Madeline said she didn’t feel any older, but was “glad to feel as well as I am.”
She was pleased her birthday turned out to be a beautiful autumn day and glad her four grandchildren were able to join her for the celebrations, which carried on into the weekend.
“It is very special because the complete family are gathering,” she said on the morning of her big day.
Highlights were visits by local politicians and cards from the Queen and Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern. She was most impressed that the PM’s card included a handwritten note.
There were many flowers, including ones from the Polish Heritage of Otago and the Southland Trust (Madeline is part Polish) and godson, Roger Pagani. Roger is the founder of women’s fashion store Pagani. His father, Maurice, and Madeline’s late husband, Harry, were councillors together on the then Upper Hutt Borough Council in the early 1960s.
And has she ever had to dial 111? Yes, and with a twist that demonstrates her resilience.
Just before she turned 100 she fell in the kitchen of her Upper Hutt home and broke her hip. She had to crawl on her elbows to the phone in the dining room to call 111. When the ambulance arrived she wouldn’t go in it until she had signed the rates cheque – which she had to do lying on her back on a stretcher and it was made more difficult because the pen didn’t work well upside down.
Would she do anything differently if she could start life over again?
“No,” she said, “And even travel would not have been on the agenda.”
Having nice people around me,” has been her preference.
To read more about Madeline and her story click here
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