Reefton prepares for 100th birthday

By Tui Bromley

It will be high tea at Reefton Hospital on Tuesday, when Phyllis Murtha celebrates her centenary.
Mrs Murtha was born in Reefton on July 16, 1913 to Nathaniel and Elsie Collins, and has remained there all her life except for a short stint at Greymouth.
She attended Reefton Primary School, then went on to St Joseph’s to learn bookkeeping with the Sisters of Mercy.
On leaving school she gained a position at Charles Lawn’s stationery shop as typist and bookkeeper, transferring to Trumans in Greymouth for a while.
A keen sportswoman, Mrs Murtha played hockey and tennis, and was also a great dancer winning championships, especially for waltzing.
In 1938 she married Gilbert (Toke) Murtha in the Christchurch Catholic Basilica and has been a parishioner at the Sacred Heart Church in Reefton since, as well as an active member of the Catholic school.
Over the years Mrs Murtha was called on to work at Kelcher’s Bakery, in Buller Road, and King’s Fruit Shop, on Broadway. She also looked after the Catholic priests doing the housekeeping and cooking.