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Full life … Travel has featured strongly in the long life of Mary Ager, of Rangiora. PHOTO: SHELLEY TOPP

By SHELLEY TOPP

Age is having a hard time putting the brakes on Mary Ager, of Rangiora.

Mary, who turns 103 this month, still enjoys a fulfilling lifestyle.

“I have a very full life. There is plenty to do and lots to see.”

She has a calm, philosophical nature, which she attributes to her loving and kind parents.

“We did everything together and I never wanted for anything.”

Travel has played a big part in her life. The elegant centenarian spent three years during her 30s working as a nanny in New York, where a cousin was the New Zealand Consul-General and trade commissioner, before visiting other areas of the United States and Canada.

In New York never sleeps” excited to find stylish shoes to fit her long feet.

She bought seven pairs during her stay, including a pair made of crocodile skin, with a matching handbag.

Mary also attended many diplomatic functions in New York, where she met people from all over the world.

She also travelled to Europe.

In England, one of her highlights was a visit to Buckingham Palace for a garden party, where she stood close to the Queen, while a family trip to Australia in 1939 also proved unforgettable.

During a road trip from New South Wales to Melbourne, where Mary’s father, Theo, was born, the family experienced the Black Friday bushfires in Victoria. The heat was so intense that Mary and her siblings spread ice cream on their faces to cool down.

The rough sea voyage home to New Zealand also proved unforgettable with many people on board, including Mary’s mother, Grace, becoming sea sick.

Mary was born on September 15, 1917 in Wairoa, where her father, an architect, designed the Wairoa Freezing Works and became manager of the business before the family moved from Hawke’s Bay to Christchurch in 1926.

A couple of years later the family shifted to Rangiora, where Theo became manager of the Farmers Trading Company department store. He was also deputy Mayor of Rangiora for a time.

Mary attended Rangiora High School and later became a boarder at St Margaret’s College in Christchurch, before eventually joining her father working for the Farmers, twice, for a
total of 35 years.

She retired at 60 to look after her mother.

Mary has also been an avid community worker throughout her life, supporting the North Canterbury Soroptomists, Probus (now known as Friendship New Zealand), the Rangiora Museum, and Rangiora Lions.

She has outlived her two brothers and a sister, who died suddenly of an unknown cause when aged just six.

She has never married. ‘‘I was engaged once but my fiancé died during the war,’’
she says.
Mary has two nieces, a nephew, five great-nephews and a great-niece.