A CENTURY of memories will be reflected on today as local woman Flora Jones celebrates her 100th birthday.
Mrs Jones’ lifetime spans most of the 20th century starting in 1916 when shingle roads dominated and people either walked or rode a horse to get anywhere.
Vivid memories include earthquakes and the terrible loss of life at the railway encampment near Kopuawhara when torrents of rubble and water swept through the night carting away loved ones in its wake.
Mrs Jones was the daughter of Ann and Charlie O’Reilly Nugent, and she was one of 10 children.
Her father, an Englishman, had emigrated to New Zealand near the end of the 19th century wanting to go farming.
Mrs Jones was born in Taupo at Opepe and is now the only surviving sibling.
Her brothers and sisters were, in age order – Kathy, Andy, Pat, Fred, Flora, Joe, Marie, Dick (Richard), Hubert and Barbara.
From the Taupo area the family moved to Opoutama on Kaiwaitau Road and Mrs Jones attended Opoutama School.
“I had a lot of fun growing up – we had boat races and I was cheeky but we had a very strict father.
“Any mischief and you had to stand on a concrete gatepost outside.
“Then there was the razor strap hanging up which he just had to shake and you soon got into line. “
Mrs Jones was still at school when the 1931 earthquake occurred and the children in class could not understand what was happening.
Mrs Jones left school after standard six, and in 1932 when the second big quake occurred, she was working at Arthur Devery’s farm on Waiherere Road, helping milk six cows and doing housekeeping.
After that job she returned home to Kaiwaitau before heading to Mangapoike Road where she did housekeeping for Jack Byrne and his wife.
Then it was back to Opoutama and later Mrs Jones worked for the Tomblesons at Mahanga.
A keen dancer, she loved socials and won a waltzing competition upstairs in the Oslers Tearooms.
Soon after she met her future husband Norman Jones at a social in Opoutama.
He was from Gisborne and a truck driver who carted metal to build the railway line.
During World War 2 he drove around the district for Ernie Jones and then later for Charlie Drager.
In 1939 the couple’s first son, Howard, was born at Opoutama.
The couple later moved to Wairoa where they had more sons – Warren, who died some years ago in Darwin; and youngest son Michael who lives in Palmerston North.
The children attended North Clyde School in what was described as tough times with the family having little money.
‘I had a lot of fun growing up…I was cheeky, but we had a strict father.’
Photo caption – Centenarian Flora Jones with her birthday card from Queen Elizabeth marking her 100th birthday today.
Thrilled at getting card from Queen Elizabeth
In later years the Joneses had the Nikau Dairy, later known as the Peter Pan Dairy at North Clyde.
In the 1960’s and 1970’s Mrs Jones began working at Moores Drapery.
“We sold blankets, bed linen, women’s wear, sheets and towels.”
The drapery was near Oslers.
Living along the Frasertown Road the Joneses were supporters of the Wairoa races and more recently Mrs Jones had a share in the racehorse No Excuse Maggie.
Speed boating was another family hobby and on one occasion in Napier Mrs Jones was asked to drive in a speed boat race – and won the event on the Clive River.
Growing orchids is still a favourite hobby for Mrs Jones and she has won many accolades for her green fingers.
After a recent setback in health she is looking forward to getting back into the shadehouse to tend her orchids.
A long-time admirer of Queen Elizabeth, Mrs Jones has several books about her and is thrilled now to have a birthday card from Her Majesty.
When the Wairoa Bridge was rebuilt after Cyclone Bola in 1989, the Queen opened the bridge and Flora was there to see her do the honours.
Mrs Jones’ husband Norman was four years older than Mrs Jones and passed away in 2006 at the age of 94.
“I’ve had a good life – you can’t do anything about the sad things.”
Birthday celebrations began last weekend and this Saturday around 100 people are gathering to celebrate her attainment of 10 decades.