At Waipukurau's Pakeke Centre, Grace Brun is affectionately referred to as "Amazing Grace" for her scones.

For the past 18 years as the kitchen assistant at the seniors' day care centre on Porangahau Rd, Grace has spent two days a week baking her scones for morning teas as well as preparing other meals for clients.

During that time she has served up her scones to quite a few mayors and, it turns out, lots of other VIPs.

"Everyone here at Pakeke is a VIP - a very important person," smiles Grace.


Last Wednesday she was back in the kitchen to start her 19th year at the centre. It marked her first day back at work since she was awarded Anglican Care Waiapu's Outstanding Service Award for 2017, an award given to only one of the 220 staff employed at its 23 services stretching from Papamoa right down to Dannevirke.

While "CHB's best scone maker" was humbled at the award, Pakeke Centre co-ordinator and childhood friend Janette Birdsall said Grace's recognition was for far more than her culinary knowledge.

"Grace has always gone the extra mile to ensure Pakeke provides nutritious meals - it's hugely important to her - but she is very flexible around her job description and is willing to perform a variety of tasks, not just associated with her job description.

"She's assisted hundreds of clients over the years and works with enthusiasm, honesty, loyalty, compassion and, above all, love. Nothing is ever a bother or too much effort, she simply keeps on giving. She's a role model," Janette said.

But Grace says she never intended to stay on at Pakeke for so long. After it opened in June of 1999, Grace offered to help a girlfriend out by setting up the kitchen and to work there for two weeks - but never left.

"I came just for a few weeks to see how I would like it because I hadn't worked with the elderly before, but I actually found my niche.

"I've always said it's not really a job - it's a home away from home. The members become part of your family and I just love the staff and the work - I love making scones."

Grace said she would continue to bake date, sultana, cheese, savoury and pin-wheel scones for as long a she could and for as long as members wanted them - which could be a while.

"The clients get feedback forms and one of the questions is if they would like a bit more variety for their morning teas. But it's always 'no' - they just want their scones," she beams.

The Pakeke Centre operates three days a week and has around 40 paid members, with a maximum of 25 attending on any day.