It was a high tea fit for royalty at Mairtown Kindergarten when the centre celebrated one of its teachers receiving a national accolade.
Early childhood teacher Christine Alford was one of two Northlanders to receive a National Excellence in Teaching Award at a ceremony at Parliament in Wellington last week. Bream Bay College's Rose Waerea was the other Northland recipient.
Mairtown Kindergarten celebrated with a surprise high tea for Christine on Wednesday, attended by more than 50 children, teachers and parents.
Head teacher Kim Townsend said it was a phenomenal feat for Ms Alford to be one of 12 pre-school to high school teachers nationally to win the award, which recognises outstanding work by teachers in schools.
"She's incredibly dedicated to her job and she's relatively new to teaching so receiving this accolade is a huge honour."
Ms Alford said she was overwhelmed and humbled by the high-tea celebration held in her honour.
"What makes this so special is this is my community who have nominated me.
"I almost can't put into words how special it is.
"I just want to thank everybody and make it clear that, while I know it's my award, it includes the whole team. You can't run a kindergarten on your own."
She was inspired to teach early childhood education after meeting her daughter's first teacher.
"My daughter's first teacher was just amazing - she made me realise it's not what you teach it's the person you are when you are teaching.
"It made me realise the value education has when it's done really well."
Ms Alford began working as a teacher at Mairtown in 2010. Influenced by "nature-based education" she took a lead role in establishing the facility's nature programme, and her paper "Making Connections with Nature" was published in Space magazine and The Education Gazette.
Northland's secondary teacher award recipient was Rose Waerea, head of social studies and music at Bream Bay College in Ruakaka.
Ms Waerea has worked at the school for 35 years, and is also an active sports coach, fundraiser, house leader, Rockquest and concert organiser.