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One book – 12,000 years of wisdom

Author Renee Hollis and her book, Keepers of History. PHOTOS/SUPPLIED

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A book celebrating centenarians and their stories had its Masterton launch yesterday, and features local legend Haddon Donald, who died last year aged 101.

Keepers of History was launched at Hedleys Bookshop with author Renee Hollis.

Hollis interviewed 120 people over the age of 100 in regions all over New Zealand, and the book tells the stories of those who have lived through so much history and their advice for the next generations.

A decorated veteran of World War II, at the time of his death Donald was the oldest surviving officer from the war.

In the book he talks about his family’s history.

He was the Wairarapa MP from 1963-1969 and saw it as his service to the country.

According to Hollis, he was a “charming old soul”.

The chapter on Donald features a lot of personal history, including his decision to propose to his wife, Ana.

“One beautiful moonlit night we went up to the Tararuas to go swimming. Before I proposed I threw Ana in the pool. I decided that if she came up smiling then I would marry her. But I didn’t know that she couldn’t stand freezing water.

“I thought she was smiling, but I found out later that it was a silent scream. I did hop in there with her to make sure that she was all right.”

Donald died in April 2018, telling his family: “I have no regrets”.

Madeline Anderson was the oldest living New Zealander at the time she lived in Masterton with family during her final year.

Living in the same house for 68 years in Upper Hutt, she only moved away from living on her own at age 109. Up and walking with the aid of her walker, her mind was quick as she recalled events of her life.

David Hedley of Hedleys Bookshop has already found there to be great interest in the book.

“It’s been amazing how many people have said they know someone that are featured.”

“Everybody loves history. People love real stories from real people, it brings it all alive. Some of the people featured are famous and quite distinguished while some are normal everyday New Zealanders”.

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