Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hutt sister-in-law centenarians celebrate together

As milestones go turning 100 is a rare occasion. It's even more special when sisters-in-law celebrate the occasion within a few days of each other.

Avalon's Shona McFarlane Retirement Home hosted the first of a double event on Friday when family and friends of Dolly Wong gathered to mark her 100th birthday. They'll be back on Thursday for the 100th birthday of her sister-in-law, Molly Ting.

Until six months ago Dolly and Molly lived next door to one another, but due to failing health Molly now lives in a different wing of the complex.

Close family ties, hard work and community service have been features of both women's lives.

The Ting and Wong families have strong ties to the Chinese community and have been long time members of the capital's Tung Jung Association of New Zealand. The group was founded in 1926 to help Chinese migrants who faced numerous prejudices socially and in business.

Dolly Wong was born in Cuba St, the eighth of 13 children. Her parents James Chin Ting and Ng Shee Ting ran the Te Aro Seed Company in Courtenay Pl for many years.

"Nan grew up above the shop on the corner of Tory St and Courtenay Pl and went to Clyde Quay School," said granddaughter Liz Ngan.

At 16 she and some of the family returned to China to learn to read and write Chinese and learn some of the classics.

She married Willie Wong, who was also raised in New Zealand, and the couple returned here in the 1930s, eventually taking over the general store at Utiku near Taihape and raising their five children there. The family moved to Lower Hutt in 1950 and ran the Rata St Fruit supply until their retirement.

A keen crafter, Dolly was skilled at embroidery, sewing, knitting and crochet. She was also an excellent pianist and "played a mean ukulele".

"Nan also loved the ballet, reading, shopping down Lambton Quay, going to dances and seeing her family grow and do well," Liz Ngan said.

Dolly said: "You never think you're going to make it this far, but I'm so pleased to be able to see my great grandchildren grow."

She was also "thrilled" to receive cards from the Queen and the Prime Minister.

"I just want to say how kind everyone is and I'm very pleased that we're here one and all to celebrate this birthday."

- Hutt News

Last updated 15:39 01/11/2011

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