Her closest neighbours and friends were invited to come along to help celebrate the momentous occasion. Sylvia says she is close with her next-door neighbours and wherever they can, they always look out for each other.

“As we have got older it is harder to get together as much as we used to. We always used to celebrate each other’s birthdays and have BBQs in the garden. We still try and help each other out when we can. If someone is unwell or coming back from hospital, we look out for each other and help with meals. My neighbours will also help by watering gardens if someone is away.”

To top off her birthday festivities, she even received the renowned 100th birthday card from King Charles III.

Sylvia has faced many challenges throughout her 100 years, including living in Christchurch during the earthquakes and being a passenger involved in the Wahine disaster. But her positive outlook on life and kindness towards others is what kept her going through all these years.

“My advice is to don’t spend too long licking your wounds when things don’t go well. Help people when you can and be kind. Don’t judge others or worry about what they are doing; you can only control yourself.”

Sylvia has lived in her Kāinga Ora home for the last 14 years after moving to Tauranga from Christchurch after the earthquakes. “The retirement village I was living in was badly damaged. I thought it was a good time to come back to Tauranga where I used to live.”

“This is a lovely place to be. We have a nice outlook, Otumoetai is a good area and very peaceful.”

Sylvia is clear about what has helped her live a long life “Genetics, my mother lived in her own home until she passed away at the age of 99 and a half!”

“You have to keep moving your body if you want to stay in your own home as you get older. Do as much as you can but know when to stop and rest. I have home help each day, but I still try to do as much as I can myself.” 

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Page updated: 13 May 2024