Teachers and children at a Papamoa childcare centre are "heartbroken" their beloved pets have been disappearing.
In the last six months, the Best Starts Community Kindy on Parton Road has lost about six rabbits and three guinea pigs.
One of the missing rabbits was Mya Hislop's family rabbit named Coco. Her mum teaches at the kindy and had bought Coco in to replace two missing rabbits.
Joint acting manager of the kindy, Toni Thorne, said it was likely the pets had been stolen.
"It is really sad, they were a part of our whanau.
"There is no way the animals could be getting out, we have put chicken wiring at the bottom of the cage and they would not be able to dig out," she said.
Ms Thorne said having animals in the kindy was beneficial to the children as it not only taught them how to look after another living being but also helped with the settling-in process.
"Families these days may not be able to have pets at home, so this was an opportunity for our kids to care for and love animals."
The cage where the animals had been kept was accessible from the carpark and the kindy allowed the community to be involved with the pets.
"On the weekends the children can bring their families to visit the pets, and there is always someone here to feed them in the evenings," she said.
The kindy was "gutted" by the disappearance of the animals as a lot of time and effort went into caring for them.
"We spend a lot of time feeding them and cleaning out their cages."
The incidents have not been officially reported but the kindy would be talking to police.
Ms Thorne said she was unsure whether or not the kindy would replace the animals as it was too upsetting to keep losing them.
"Whoever is taking the animals, think about the children while you are doing it," she said.