It's not your average morning tea when Geraldine Sellens and her friends get together to celebrate their birthdays.
The four women, now all in their 80s, went through college together 70 years ago, and for the last 18 years they've been neighbours at the same retirement village.
Their bond runs deep, thanks not just to memories past, but also to the new memories they've created together at Metlifecare's Kapiti Village.
"All four of us moved into Kapiti Village 18 years ago, but it wasn't until we were living here that we met up and realised we'd all been at school together," said Geraldine, now 86.
On her first day at Wellington Technical College (now Wellington High School), Geraldine made a beeline for new classmate Jeanette Murphy.
"She was so cute with these big dimples; I couldn't resist sitting next to her."
That was 74 years ago, and although the pair drifted apart once they got married and had children, they remain each other's oldest friends.
A year later, Noelene Kerr and Heather Pinkney started at the school, along with Michael Leggott, who's also now a Kapiti Village resident.
They didn't know it at the time but it was the beginning of what was to become a lifelong friendship.
"We four girls always go out to morning tea or lunch to celebrate each other's birthdays and have been doing so without fail for the last 15 or 16 years.
"Sometimes Michael comes along too.
"We have so much fun.
"We've all been on the village residents' committee and get in all sorts of crazy situations together."
Unusually, all four women moved into the retirement village before they turned 70.
"Some of my friends thought I was mad going into an old people's home at that age, but my husband had died, the weather is better in Paraparaumu than Wellington and I had lots of friends living out this way.
"Plus, Kapiti Village is not an old people's home!
"This is a very special place. There are attractive grounds, a forest, and houses are spread well apart.
"When my daughter and I first visited, I immediately thought 'I could live here'."
Kapiti Village has provided an idyllic lifestyle for the group, however a new life chapter is about to begin for its youngest member Heather Pinkney.
Shortly Heather will transfer to sister village Coastal Villas, where she will enjoy the added benefits of a serviced apartment.
"It will be strange not having Heather here at Kapiti Village after all these years, but we will continue to support her, and of course we will always pick her up and take her out on all our birthday celebrations," adds Geraldine.
- written by Vanessa Trethewey