100 years is a milestone rarely reached by Māori.
However, this weekend, Albert George Asher of Ngāti Pūkenga and Ngāti Pikiao celebrated his 100th birthday in Auckland. Because of his respect and his life achievements over the past 100 years, many of his descendants were present to celebrate this milestone.
It's the mark of excellence.
A seasoned veteran who has excelled to the pinnacle of life's challenges.
Son, Geoff Asher says, “I'm absolutely over the moon. I wanted it to be a gathering of the whānau, a very very special occasion for my father, and a lot of heartache, but it came together and I'm absolutely gobsmacked.”
An estimated 200 people gathered in New Lynn, Auckland this weekend to celebrate the 100th birthday of Albert Asher (Ngāti Pūkenga, Ngāti Pikiao). A former soldier with the NZ Army, Asher served in WW II, and has once again beaten the odds.
Grandson, Gavin Harris says, “You mention it at work and the people just raise some eyebrows. It's a definite buzz to say you've got a 100 year old grandfather. It's pretty exciting he's made the milestone. Hopefully it's in the genes.”
Its main objective had been reached.
Harris says, “An event like this you really have a good excuse to reel people back in it's cool.”
Chris Winitana says, "We see the family resemblance, gee you look neat, and we're cheeky as anything"
That the trumpet of family core values will resonate between his descendants.
Winitana, Ngāti Tūwharetoa says, “Myself and many other children have not yet met this half of the family. The descendants of the older brother of our ancestor, Jack Asher.”
Te Kāea asked the whanau if they considered themselves to be sports orientated.
Hariata Winitana-Paki, Ngāti Tūwharetoa says, “That's what the reports are that are coming to me. You hear that some of them were very good at rugby.”
He's the son of Albert Opai Asher, who is credited as being a pioneer of the Kiwis, and even the All Blacks alike. It is said he started the New Zealand Māori Rugby League union in 1908, on their maiden tour to Australia.
“He was the first cross over, he played league for the national team and then represented for the All Blacks in rugby, so, he was probably our first Sonny Bill Williams, so yeah, he was a colourful character was Opai Asher,” says Harris.
Chris Winitana says, "I'm sorry my voice is loud, but I'm half deaf, and I'm not even half your age!"
Asides from the many sporting feats in centuries gone by.
The many strands of family still resonate within themselves.
“The Asher family are of Jewish heritage, and we bring that love of betting. So when you mix it with Māori blood, well that's another story,” says Chris Winitana.
It is right to leave the last word to the man of the hour.
Centenarian Albert Asher says, “I've been there. I've done everything you know you name it. You go through these stages.”
Asides from the pomp and celebration of the weekend, his actual birthday is on Wednesday, without a doubt he will be celebrated again on the day he was born exactly one hundred years ago.