Real Life

The 100 club: a century of knowledge

New Zealand Woman’s Weekly asked three Kiwi centenarians for their best advice and where women of today might be going wrong.

By Kelly Bertrand
Wisdom comes with age and these women, who have all passed the 100-year mark, have centuries of knowledge, opinions and straight-up, no-nonsense home truths for younger generations of women. New Zealand Woman’s Weekly asked three Kiwi centenarians for their best advice and where women of today might be going wrong.
Olive Mason
“I’ve had a wonderful life. My father was a farmer, so we had the best of everything. I was born in Ashburton and I didn’t come to Auckland until after I was married. I had three children in four years, so I was very busy. Family is the secret of being happy, I think. “I never thought about being old until my 100th birthday! Life just goes on I guess.
“Today’s a lot different though. Young women wear too many cosmetics. There are more important things to worry about. All I’ve ever used is a bit of cold cream. The way teenagers dress is horrible. Torn jeans! They were a lot more ladylike in my day. “And there’s no such thing as a gentleman. I still like men to let me go through a doorway!
“The biggest lesson I ever learned was to be kind. Be kind to everyone. I think that gets you much further in life.
“The best advice I could give a young woman came from my mother. She used to say boys can be very charming, but sometimes they lead to a very unpleasant time. So, be careful!
Dorothy Allan
“I was probably too strongwilled in my day, now that I think about it. Women were supposed to be compliant, but I don’t think they always were! I was born in England, but I moved to Mauritius just after I married my husband and I loved it there – I’d go back if I could.
My standards are pretty high and I think that’s because of the way I was brought up, and living in Mauritius – everything was very formal there. “But the young women these days, their attitude is more like, ‘What’s yours is mine if I want it.’ That needs to change.
I don’t think they’re particularly happy, are they? They’re always wanting more. That’s not the way to be happy. It’s that old saying, ‘You have to be happy, whether you’ve got little or much.’ If you’re always pining for something more, you’re never going to be happy.
“My mother always used to tell me that you have to be passionate about what you do. Always find work you love. If you don’t like it, leave and find something you do. Don’t waste your life working on something you don’t like.
“I always thought my mother would have been proud when I got my letter from the Queen. She is a wonderful woman, she is. The royal wedding though! For Kate to wear white – that wasn’t good. They’d been living together for years! What the Queen must have thought about that…
“Young women these days have so many more opportunities. They’re in every field of life, it’s amazing. They have to make the most out of them. “I don’t really have any beauty secrets, except I love Oil of Olay. I’m a little upset actually, because they’ve stopped making the stuff for sensitive skin. I don’t know what I’ll do now.
“As far as advice for women now, it’s everything in moderation. Especially drink. And food – overeating is bad. Also, take everything as it comes. The main thing is to cope. You have to cope with everything that comes along. You don’t really have a choice, not when it comes down to brass tacks.”
Gertrude Wynne
“I think people ought to help other people more. The best advice I ever got was from my mum – life’s about giving, not receiving. “I was born in Waimamaku in Northland in 1911, but I’ve lived most of my life in Auckland’s Devonport and Red Beach.
Being one of 11 children, I learned to appreciate the small things in life. I remember being extremely happy growing up. “I really believe that young women should strive for a balance in their lives – this is the secret! Eat good food like homegrown veges, keep active (I used to swim every day) and try to be happy, because the time goes so fast.
That, and the importance of families. Oh, and cleanliness is next to godliness! “For all of those young women out there, I think the best piece of advice I could give them is that they’ll get there eventually.”

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