Peter Green thought he might “go bush” on his 100th birthday coming up in a couple of months.
But he’s not allowed to, he reckons, because his daughter and family want to put on a party in Hamilton. So the spritely Cliff Street nonagenarian will celebrate in style the week after his milestone birthday — when a certain Hamilton hall is available — and has now also arranged to use St Peter’s hall in Bow Street for a shindig of his own on the actual day.
“I’ve got lots of friends in Raglan, all over the town that know me well,” he says. Despite having lived here just 11 years, Peter gets out and about three or four times a week to the Postshop and the Four Square where he still does all his own shopping.
He gets around with the help of a walking frame after a stroke some years back left him with a gammy leg and a tendency to keel over at times. But that’s the worst of his troubles. In fact, for all his 99 years, Peter seems to be remarkably free of troubles at all.
Yes he’s a bit deaf, he admits — and his eyesight’s not what it used to be of course. “But I’m spreading my leaflets and enjoying life, spiritually myself, very much.”
No surprise then that Peter’s secret of longevity is his faith in God.
For years he’s produced what he calls his healing leaflets which he distributes at every opportunity — locally, internationally even if friends and family are going overseas. One of them, in fact, has been sent back to him, translated into Chinese.
“There’s 1.4 billion Chinese which I hope to get circulated to,” says Peter proudly.
One such little leaflet arrived at the Chronicle office not so long ago. Entitled ‘Wow! What An Awesome Miracle Story!’ it tells about a time when Peter was a young man and for eight years suffered chronic pain after two major nasal operations. Peter’s prognosis was not good and finally, at the end of his tether, he prayed for a miracle.
He awoke the next morning, he says, “completely healed”. And a few years later went back to his doctor, who was baffled but could only confirm the cure was all down to Peter’s faith.
“For 69 years now I’ve been free of pain,” Peter says. “It’s marvellous.”
Peter’s got many strings to his bow. Although he’s never had a lesson in his life, he’s an avid artist — has been since drawing in pen and ink as a school boy in Auckland — and now many of his later oils are displayed on the walls of his home where he welcomes visitors in for a look-see. And he’s made all the wooden frames himself.
His handyman work and ingenuity took him a long way back when he was earning his living. Having started off as a car painter in Frankton where he made quite a name for himself, he then turned his hand to fixing wooden framing on school buses. This led to steelwork, and after “losing a trailer on the divvy one day” he got busy in his workshop and invented a safety clamp.
That workshop, that factory — started in 1935 by Peter — was to evolve through one of his sons as Greens Industries, designing quality tapware for an international market. Peter’s life is pleasantly simple these days. The twice-over widower cooks all his own meals, and makes sure he has fruit and vegies every day. “I look after myself,” he admits.
Fresh scones on the kitchen bench were waiting to be eaten the day the Chronicle called last week, and a loaf from the breadmaker looked tempting too. He loves Raglan and his home here, he says, and “never wants to leave it”. Until his stroke nine years ago, he’d even go fishing across the road at low tide.
Once a week Peter has someone come in to clean his house. And he gets a bit of help with the garden too, particularly when it comes time to prune the fruit trees and grapevine in the backyard.
“But I don’t feel old,” says Peter who’s now lost count of his grandchildren and great grandchildren. “I feel well in myself.”
And he’s amazed at how Raglan’s still developing, having built a bach in Raglan West many years ago during wartime. Peter bought the section for 50 pounds, he recalls, and had first choice from nine acres of subdivided farmland.