''Not another one from the jolly old Queen!''

You know Lena Walker's had a lot of birthdays when that's her response to a card from Buckingham Palace.

Walker, who turned 107 yesterday, is thought to be Northland's oldest resident — and one of very few New Zealanders who can recall troops coming home from World War I.

She celebrated her birthday at Haruru Falls, near Paihia, with a morning tea shared with residents of Radius Baycare and lots of hugs from her little friends from Paihia Early Childhood Centre.

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The event was, as always, punctuated by Walker's frequent peals of laughter, which have echoed around the resthome since she had to give up driving and her own home at the tender age of 103.

Grandson Paul Eley, of Whangarei, shows Lena Walker her birthday card from the Queen, to join the six already on her wall. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Grandson Paul Eley, of Whangarei, shows Lena Walker her birthday card from the Queen, to join the six already on her wall. Photo / Peter de Graaf

Much of the great-great-grandmother's family lives overseas these days but they were represented by grandson Paul Eley from Whangārei.

''She just keeps going, she's always walking up and down the corridors,'' he said.

Former neighbour Garth Craig, from Paihia, believed positivity was a key factor in her longevity.

''She's always had a very positive outlook. She's got a good giggle, she's always laughing.''

Lena Walker, 107, shares a birthday hug with Sanita Patel, 4, from Haruru Falls. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Lena Walker, 107, shares a birthday hug with Sanita Patel, 4, from Haruru Falls. Photo / Peter de Graaf

Baycare manager Pam Hughes said Walker was a hit with the children from the nearby pre-school, who were regular visitors at the resthome.

''She loves music and she absolutely adores the kids coming in. She's Nanny Lena to them all.''

While the 107-year-old maintained she didn't want a fuss she clearly enjoyed the party, especially the singing and cuddles from her young visitors.

Birthday girl Lena Walker, 107, with some of her little friends from Paihia Early Childhood Centre. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Birthday girl Lena Walker, 107, with some of her little friends from Paihia Early Childhood Centre. Photo / Peter de Graaf

Walker was born Evelyn Wilkinson on June 11, 1912, in Shannon, Manawatu.

Her oldest memories include catching the train to Palmerston North for shopping, a parade through Wellington for troops returning from World War I, and a party her mother organised to celebrate her uncles' homecoming from what was supposed to be the war to end all wars.

After a stint as a Sunday School teacher the young Lena left home at the age of 17, against her father's wishes, and landed a job in Wellington as a seamstress.

Later she moved to Tauranga to help her older sister with her children and met Vincent Walker at a dance in Mount Maunganui.

The kids of Paihia Early Childhood Centre show Lena Walker the card they made for her 107th birthday. Photo / Peter de Graaf
The kids of Paihia Early Childhood Centre show Lena Walker the card they made for her 107th birthday. Photo / Peter de Graaf

They married and moved to Paihia around 1970, building their own home on Kings Rd.

When she was in her late 80s, after her husband died, she sold her belongings, put her house on the market and moved to Australia, before eventually returning to Paihia.

She fractured her hip at the age of 104 but was back up and walking within a week.

Her latest birthday greeting from her Majesty will join the six already displayed in her room along with dozens of cards from prime ministers, governors-general, MPs, relatives and her pre-school friends.