There were shared stories, laughs and probably some quiet tears when Whangarei's oldest community child care facility celebrated its 60th birthday.
The Avenues Educare (Northland Residential Nursery and Creche Society) hosted an open morning and a tree-planting by Mayor Morris Cutforth this week. Former committee members and staff, parents and children dressed up as their favourite story characters were also there.
Several thousand children have been enrolled at the centre over the years. It is licensed now for 40 children at each session, with more than 60 on the roll.
The creche's history goes back nearly 10 years before it was officially opened in 1951. As with many initiatives that benefited families, rural women's groups got the ball rolling - Women's Division of Federated Farmers and Country Women's Institute, members of which started a Nursery Fund in 1943.
That unleashed a determined chain of fundraising, local business sponsorships and annual donations the Art Union lottery.
In 1946, the committee became an incorporated society and bought the home of Whangarei mayor and mayoress, Mr and Mrs Jones, for the Northland Residential Nursery and Creche.
Two years later, non-profit organisation regulations saw the committee hand over ownership of the building to the Northland Hospital Board, and for the next few years an annually elected committee ran the nursery on a voluntary basis.
In 1950, committee president Mrs Carnavon became "caretaker", and would soon be the stay-in Nursery and Creche's first matron.
The Northland Hospital Board topped up funds when necessary, and public events, benefit concerts and radio shows raised money for renovations and equipment.
Whether it was to provide parents with a rest or time to attend appointments, the nursery also served as a training ground for children's care.
It was open all-year round, including Christmas and New Year holidays, had a staff of six and was open 24 hours a day for emergency cases.
Before what is now the Avenues Educare Centre was opened in 1951, a desperate father whose wife was ill left his four pre-school children with Mrs Carnavon for some time.
The help available for families, and the focus of pre-school care, has changed dramatically in the past 60 years, but at Thursday's celebration of a childcare that has adapted to its community's needs, there was a constant message: "We thank our pioneer women for their foresight."