Palmerston’s Sarah still a beauty at 92

Monday May 23, 2016 Written by Published in Outer Islands
Sarah Tupou Tina Marsters nee Haua with her daughter Stella Neale. 16052004 Sarah Tupou Tina Marsters nee Haua with her daughter Stella Neale. 16052004

HAVING just celebrated her 92nd birthday last month, Sarah Tupou Tina Marsters has two pieces of advice for young people – have a positive attitude towards life and always eat balanced meals.


Born on April 21, 1924, Marsters (nee Haua) is one of the oldest women living on Palmerston Island.

She is known by her family and those who know her well as someone who loves to read and sing and a woman of principles.

Her daughter, Stella Neale, says her mother was brought up by her grandmother and later by her aunty and uncle Sarah and Tom Tikaroa after her mother, Paruai Tehinano, died in a cyclone that hit Palmerston in 1926.

“She loved to say that she shared her birthday with the Queen of England,” Neale says. “Mum is a widow. Her third and last marriage was to Carl Teraia Marsters who passed away in 2000.”

Marsters raised seven children – four boys and three girls.

She has 14 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren, some of whom live in New Zealand, Australia, Germany and the Middle East.

Marsters was once married to the celebrated Tom Neale, known for living the life of a hermit on remote Suwarrow Island and with whom she had two children – a son Arthur, and daughter Stella.

Her early years of growing up on Palmerston taught her to withstand hardship, hard physical labour, generosity and hospitality – all things she continued to display throughout her life, her daughter says.

She says her mother always ensured her children had enough to eat despite her meagre earnings when living on Rarotonga and she was known as someone who was always generous to those in need.

In her early seventies Marsters migrated to New Zealand allowing her three youngest children to further their education.

She believes in education, even though she left school when she was only 14.

She was self-educated through her love of reading and loved to read the Bible.

“She was always a hard worker and was physically very strong. It was not until she was into her early seventies that my brother could beat her in an arm wrestling contest,” Stella Neale says.

She said her mother had never smoked, drank alcohol or tea and coffee.

“She loved to read and sing and she still does. She was always keen on walking, when she was younger.

“Sadly, she was no longer able to walk very long distances after she sustained injuries in her youth.

“The old injury started to cause her back pain so she found it hard to walk long distances. But she still insists on walking if she can, but for the past 10 years she has used a wheelchair for any longer journeys.

“Her favourite foods are fish, coconuts including uto, bananas and puraka,” Neale says.

“She also loves orange chocolate chip ice-cream and jelly, which she eats occasionally. And her mayonnaise salad was a favourite amongst the family.”

During her long life Marsters has been a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and served in various capacities as leader in the church organisations for children and youth, and the world-wide organisation for women known as The Relief Society.

“She has always been known for her compassion, humour, dedication to her responsibilities, courageous, her generosity – and also the fact that she was so beautiful,” Neale says.

1 comment

  • Comment Link grantpearse Sunday, 07 April 2019 15:57 posted by grantpearse

    Mama Sarah is a lovely woman. I went to school with Stella and Arthur here in Hamilton NZ.
    Visited with them when they lived on Rarotonga and had a nice time.

    Very charming lady..

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