Nessie Wenman: 100 years and counting

Nessie Wenman is turning 100 years old today. Photo: John Borren/SunLive.

Nessie Wenman turns 100 today – and man has she seen an incredible 100 years on this planet.

The Mount Maunganui centenarian has witnessed a rapidly-changing world, living through the Second World War, multiple recessions and Covid-19 to name few times of interest.

While having cards from the Queen, Governor General, Minister of Senior Citizens and the Prime Minister arrive on her doorstep to congratulate on her milestone, Nessie doesn’t feel any different.

“I can’t quite believe it, I always think to myself: ‘Am I supposed to feel any different?’” says Nessie.

“I am a royalist, they are all lovely cards, but I must say the one from the Queen is just beautiful. She’s in a lovely pale green outfit.”

Nessie was born May 7, 1922, in Belfast, Ireland. One of three children, she grew up in Port Chalmers, north of Dunedin.

Her family moved to New Zealand to find a better life during the Great Depression when she was aged four. Nessie attended Port Chalmers School.

Her father worked in railway construction after being part of the construction team who worked on the Titanic.

She’s been an active person her entire life.

Nowadays, she enjoys feeding birds outside, completing code crackers in the newspaper while sitting in the sun, and gardening strawberries and vegetables on her raised patch her son constructed, complete with a bench for her to sit on.

To celebrate the occasion, Nessy is having a fingerfood lunch with her friends, nieces and nephews that are all very keen to attend.

“We had to have a bit of a limit with Covid-19, but I’m very lucky to have all of these younger people around me. There’s not too many of my old friends left!”

Nessie’s secret to living a long life is doing things in moderation, staying active and avoiding rushing.

“I don’t think I do things to excess, and I’ve always been into sport. I think that keeps you fit.”

Evolving technology has been the biggest cause of change, according to Nessie.

“When we went into computers I thought I was going to be left behind. I decided: ‘No, that’s not the way to go,’ so I went to computer classes.

“You’ve got to just keep up with the times. Things have changed so much and are still changing now, I’m really struggling to do away with cheques and switch to online banking.

“It’s a huge thing to get your head around.”

Nessie also says the recent war in Ukraine has evoked some memories of the past.

“The World War Two years were horrible. I was married to a bomber pilot who went to war, and he never came home; he is buried in England. He was a Kiwi pilot named John Broadley…I have visited his grave since then.

“This war in Ukraine brings back a lot of memories. It is really sad what is happening.

“I’ve got a niece coming to my birthday from his side of the family. We’ve always kept in touch.”

Covid-19 was another catalyst for change in Nessie’s life.

“I stopped going out. I was out a lot beforehand but because of my age I was told to stay home. It can really be quite depressing.

“I like company and we really had to limit ourselves. But you can’t let it get you down. I feel very sorry for the young ones, it must be very hard for them.”

Cooking and playing cards are Nessie’s other favourite activities.

“I used to play golf and there were these people starting as I was leaving. They kept in touch with me, and come after golf to play Quiddler and Five Crowns. They pick me up and take me to their homes.

“When it’s my turn, we all get takeaways. Last night we had KFC when they came to play cards.

“I’m very fortunate to have all of these good friends. Best of all, they don’t let me get away with anything in the card games!”

One day off 100 Nessie stills does all her own cooking.

“When I cook I make things like casserole, and don’t just make it for one night. Sometimes I make it for about three-four nights so I can put it in the freezer.”

Nessie is grateful for all of her friends, family and people that help her, and is looking forward to celebrating her 100th birthday.




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2 Comments

Happy Birthday

Posted on 07-05-2022 15:51 | By Bob Landy

Have a good one.

Happy 100th Birthday Nessie

Posted on 07-05-2022 09:09 | By Bruja

You sound wonderful. It’s no wonder you’ve made it this far. Hope you make it a lot further yet! Kind thoughts and best wishes, Lee

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