Long-life secrets: veggies, sweets and chocolate


Queenstown’s newest centenarian Norma Lakeland attributes her long life to eating vegetables and lots of sweets, especially chocolates.

And drinking one gin a night, her husband Phil Lakeland adds.

Norma had about 160 guests for her 100th birthday party at the Arrowtown Hall last Saturday, including many from Australia.

The couple have lived at Queenstown’s Kelvin Heights for the past 32 years.

They’ve also brought up 50 years of marriage even though both were married twice before.

Norma was born in the small North Island town of Dannevirke but grew up in Dunedin and was a karitane nurse, looking after infants.

Her nephew Graham Gilkison says she was known as the ‘holiday lady’ because she looked after young ones while their parents holidayed.

“We have a number of those children here today,” he said during Saturday’s party.

Norma helped out the war effort in Wellington during World War II.

During a visit to Australia she met Phil, a chef, and together they operated a cafe at Surfers Paradise.

After shifting to Queenstown they’ve continued to winter over in Australia.

Gilkison says his aunt “loves everything to do with music and arts”.

“She’s a gale of laughter, she’s a breath of fresh air, and she attracts friends - she has great conversation.”

Norma’s one child, Christopher, from an earlier marriage, died of a heart attack two years ago.

Gilkison’s mother and Norma’s sister Corrine Gilkison, a one-time New Zealand ski champion and Otago figure skating, golf and tennis champion, died in her mid-90s.