This was first published in the Waikawa Beach Newsletter, November 2016:
The following obituary has been supplied by the Walker Family in memory of Irene Walker who passed away last week. [22 November 2016]
WAIKAWA’S OLDEST RESIDENT
On 1 August, Waikawa’s oldest resident, IRENE WALKER turned 100 years old and celebrated with a fantastic party at Tatum Park, where the then Mayor, Brendon Duffy, presented her with a letter from the Queen. She didn’t get home till 2am and loved every single minute of it.
Irene and George Walker bought one of the earliest sections to be subdivided off the Drake family farm in the late 50’s and which the family still own.
Those were the days when there was a gravel road from Manakau and farm gates to open and close on the way to the beach. Fresh milk was obtained from Drake’s milking shed which was situated close to the present start of the village and over the years they witnessed many changes at Waikawa Beach.
They retired to live here permanently in 1974 and being keen gardeners successfully grew show chrysanthemums for some years.
George suffered from emphysema and when quad bikes became available they bought one which then allowed them to go down to the beach white baiting which was another of their passions. In usual white baiting fashion, if you asked how many they caught the answer would always be “barely enough for a fritter” — never tell anyone what you actually caught!
Interestingly George never had a driving license so Irene did all the driving. Her family called her the ‘silver streak’ and she kept the license until her 100th birthday, but sensibly eased out of the driver’s seat after that.
Sadly, George died in 1987, but Irene remained at Waikawa developing an interest in art and pottery, being talented in both.
She still rode her quad bike but recently traded up to an automatic bike as she didn’t have the strength to change the gears.
Many people would see her going for her daily walk to keep fit and only these last couple of months did she slow down and needed more little rests which enabled her to stop for a chat.
She attributed her long life to being lucky with health, eating well — cream on her porridge, fat on the meat and getting out as many days as she could for fresh air and a walk.
She will now be walking with George who has been waiting patiently for 29 years.
She was a wonderful, vibrant, interesting woman and will be sadly missed by family and friends.