Mary Going's 101st birthday yesterday began on a cosmic note with her 6-year-old great-grandson Trey Going playing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star on a violin.
"I sang along with him," she said, impressed with the little boy's musical efforts. "I had a go on the violin when I was younger and didn't like it, but I did very well with the piano."
A bumper breakfast which accompanied the musical treat left Mrs Going saying: "I enjoy seeing smiles. When I see someone smiling, I'm smiling too."
And she showed humorous insight by adding: "I hope I'm not grumpy when they're grumpy."
Mrs Going, who has 58 direct descendants - including rugby stars Sid, Brian and the late Ken Going - was unlikely to have seen anything but fond smiles when she dined at a Paihia restaurant with 25 close family members last night.
And she will be matriarch of honour at a family reunion on April 17-19 to celebrate the arrival in New Zealand 150 years ago of Captain John Going and his wife Eliza (nee Connorton).
The couple left England on the ship Caduceus with six children. One died on the voyage and they later had a further five children.
Although the function centre at the Copthorne Hotel at Waitangi where the reunion will be held can hold up to 1000, it could be overflowing if all John and Eliza's descendants turn up.
Seven generations of Goings and their relatives in the Hodges, Cutforth, Finlayson, Thompson, Evans, Wakelin Pitts, Jenkins, Hirst and other families have been invited.
A special internet blog, johngoingreunion.wordpress.com/ - has been set up to help co-ordinate the huge assembly of relatives, coming from all over the world.
Mary, daughter of Takahiwai farmer Tautohe Paki and wife Emily (nee Pitman), was born the year John Going died and she married his grandson, Maromaku farmer Cyril Going, in 1935. Cyril was a widower with six children and the couple had another six.
Cyril died in 1990, but is far from forgotten. Asked to recall the happiest event in her long life, Mary said there had been many, but "my husband is my best friend, companion and general adviser".
The family had a big vegetable garden and Mary earned a reputation as a good cook, preparing food for her large brood.
And a life of hard work has not lined her face or her spirit. "Life is lovely even though it has its ups and downs. You keep on learning from things around you."
Mary got messages from the Queen and Prime Minister when she clocked up the century last year, and her family entertained her with a concert at Forum North, in Whangarei.
The birthday celebrations were more subdued yesterday as the family prepared for the April reunion, but another concert would be certain if Mary reached 110 - and with her appearing so unaffected by time Trey had better keep his violin tuned.