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David Baker climbed to the peak of Mt Taranaki alongside his wife Helen, 71, and family for his 90th birthday celebrations last month. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Ngātea retiree’s record climb for charity

“Use it or lose it” has always been the attitude of Ngātea nonagenarian David Baker.
Not only has the 90-year-old made good use of his legs throughout his life, traversing tracks overseas and throughout New Zealand, he has now become the oldest known person to have ever reached the summit of Mt Taranaki.
He climbed the peak alongside his wife Helen, 71, and family for his birthday celebrations last month, telling The Profile it was both a mental and physical challenge that was spurred on by a fundraiser for Starship.
“For the last five or six months, Helen and I have been working towards it; we knew how hard it was going to be,” he said.
Mount Taranaki, also called Mt Egmont, is a dormant stratovolcano that stands at 2518m high. It is the second highest mountain in the North Island and it took David and his family 12 hours total to ascend and descend it.
David’s childhood home was under the shadow of the maunga. He recalled “living in the bush chasing goats for two and sixpence each”.
“I’ve always had an inkling to keep fit,” he said. “I’ve played a lot of squash, went for runs…”
For five years, David was responsible for setting up 400 bait stations in the Waharau Regional Park – a steep climb he said got his heart rate up – and, after retiring to the Hauraki eight years ago, he found other ways to continue his activity.
“It’s so flat in Ngātea,” he said, “so what I do everyday besides my walk, is go up and down the steps at the pavilion for 15 to 30 minutes. Thirty minutes is my record – that’s 90 times walking up and down 15 steps – and that’s the reason why when I came off the mountain, the next day there were absolutely no muscle twinges. Nothing.”
David may also be recognisable for his generosity in picking up litter around town.
For at least five years, he has collected 20kg of rubbish a month, including glass, cans, and cardboard, and walks back home to recycle it.
But the inspirational Hauraki man remains ever humble.
Although he climbed Mt Taranaki for his 70th and 80th birthdays, he said his 90th-year excursion came with a “big push” – to fundraise for Starship.
He chose the children’s hospital because, after nine decades of no serious health complications, David said he was well-aware how fortunate he and his family had been.
“I’ve been a teacher and feel children are our future,” Helen said. “We have been really lucky with our children and our grandchildren, but not everybody is as fortunate.”
DETAILS: To donate to David’s fundraiser, visit