by Greta Yeoman
Waimate resident Jessie Allnutt stars in a new book about New Zealand centenarians.
Mrs Allnutt, nee McLean, was one of 120 people author Renee Hollis interviewed for her book Keepers of History: New Zealand Centenarians Tell Their Stories in 2017.
Born on March 24, 1916, Mrs Allnutt was brought into the world by New Zealand’s first registered female doctor, Dr Margaret Cruickshank, at her father’s farm in Glenavy.
In the book, Ms Hollis writes that Mrs Allnutt loved living on the farm, saying “I didn’t have a lot of time for the kitchen”.
She said her horse Tui was her “best friend” and she was also “good mates” with her father, who she would join to feed the sheep.
Mrs Allnutt talks of her long days at school at Studholme, where they would board the train home at 4.15pm and get home after 7pm.
“You were buggered by the weekend, absolutely shot,” she says.
She met her husband-to-be, Tom Allnutt, during a holiday at Mt Cook after her cousin invited her to join him and his friend Tom for the trip.
They married in April 1945 at St Paul’s in Oamaru and then moved to the Allnutt family farm at Morven.
The couple had three sons, Graham, Phillip and the late Winston.
Mr and Mrs Allnutt later moved to Waimate in 1972. However, Mr Allnutt died in 1974.
“He didn’t get to enjoy his retirement. It was a real shame.”
Nowadays, “I just spend my time living”, she tells Ms Hollis in the book.
Ms Hollis said during an interview that Mrs Allnutt was “full of life” and described her as “a hard case” who made her laugh with her stories and expressions.
“Jessie re-enacted riding her horse Tui.”
Mrs Allnutt still goes out on her scooter in good weather, reads the local newspapers (“I like to . know what’s going on”) and has “just about” retired from the garden, but still participates in a variety of sports, including tennis, lawn bowls, Scottish country dancing and badminton.
Mrs Allnutt will turn 103 next month.
“I’m getting older but I don’t notice it much.”
Renee Hollis’ Keepers of History: New Zealand Centenarians Tell Their Stories is set to be released in March.