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The newest perennial Napier is there with the help of her fruits and vegetables




Audrey Denham credits fruit and vegetables, a daily walk and a “red cup with dinner” for helping her celebrate her 100th birthday with friends and family. The attached photo

Since the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake, she has raised her son while her husband fought abroad in World War II, and now the COVID-19 pandemic — “it’s been a busy life,” says Napier’s Latest 100 Years.

Audrey Dunham celebrated her 100th birthday with friends and family at Princess Alexandra’s Retirement Village on Sunday.

Born and raised, Audrey was raised next to the now closed Bluff Hill Elementary School, which she attended.

She was there on February 3, 1931, the day a deadly 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck the Hawk’s Bay area.

“It’s not something you forget in a hurry.

“There was a horrific noise and so was everything rattling and falling.”

Her two-story wooden house escaped major damage despite falling brick chimneys.

“The whole place was a mess.”

She and one of her sisters were sent to Wellington, while her brother was sent to New Plymouth and her older sister remained behind to help with the clean-up efforts.

“That was really, really exciting,” Audrey said.

“It’s been a very busy life.”

After she finished her studies at Hastings Girls’ High School, she moved to Wellington where her husband worked in insurance.

Her son Toby was born before her husband left to fight in World War II.

They returned to Hawke’s Bay in 1977, with their boys and girls.

When her children left home, Dunham decided to reconsider her interest in the Roman and Greek classics, and complete a Bachelor of Arts in English and Classics.

“I’ve always been curious about this kind of thing.”

Dunham couldn’t decide who her favorite classic hero or god was, but she confirmed that Dionysus – the Greek god of wine – did not appear at her birthday celebrations over the weekend.

“We had a nice little party.

“It was great to see my family and relatives.”

Unfortunately, her children and grandchildren from Australia were unable to attend because the rise in Covid in NSW led to the closure of borders.

Dunham said she has received many beautiful cards including from the offices of the Queen, the Prime Minister and the Governor General.

“It was very nice to admit.”

She attributed her long life to eating lots of fruits and vegetables, a “red glass for dinner” and daily walks, though she admitted that she was getting “short and shorter.”

Her favorite period was her “early life” and she thought the telephone was the best invention.

“I don’t think things have improved much with technology.

“Kids spend all their time on the machines instead of running outside.”

It’s “amazing,” Denham said.





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