A lot changes in 65 years. Children grow up. Those who raise them grow older. Hearing fades, and voices falter, but conversations grow deeper and more meaningful.

Some things don't change, like the bond between a kind young woman and the little girl she helped to raise.

It never will.

Jennie Polyblank hadn't seen Muriel Thompson since she was 4 years old, but when the 69-year-old British mum was reunited with her now 90-year-old former nanny in Opotiki this week, it was as if no time had passed at all.


"It's just incredible. I have just never let go of the desire to find her, I never gave up. I said to her, 'Can you believe this moment would happen?'," an ecstatic Mrs Polyblank told the New Zealand Herald.

Mrs Thompson was Mrs Polyblank's primary caregiver from the age of 2 until she was 4 years old -- a snapshot in a full life.

But the then 23-year-old was her world at the time, and she grieved when the woman she affectionately called Moo Moo left the United Kingdom for New Zealand in 1950.

"I was heartbroken."

Mrs Thompson wrote to the family for a few months, but contact ended as she started her own family, which would eventually grow to four children.

But neither forgot the other.

Mrs Thompson named her only daughter, Jennifer, after the little girl she once cared for.

"[Jennie] was always in the back of my mind and I always thought, 'If I have a daughter I'm going to name her Jennifer'. I just adored her," Mrs Thompson said.

But she was surprised Mrs Polyblank remembered her.

Mrs Polyblank wasn't.

"She was my primary attachment figure, she was so kind and warm ... I never ever forgot her."

A 2006 visit to New Zealand proved fruitless. Authorities couldn't help, and a vital tool that would eventually lead her to Mrs Thompson -- Facebook -- was in its infancy.

"I sort of gave up but I didn't really because I kept her letters, I kept her photos. And then I decided on December 31 that my New Year's resolution would be to find her, although I was worried I'd left it too late."

She had few details -- only Mrs Thompson's maiden name, her age and the date and ship she sailed on to New Zealand -- but within 10 minutes of posting on the page of a British-New Zealand Facebook group, she had Mrs Thompson's phone number and address.

Worried a phone call might startle Mrs Thompson, she wrote a letter, although it wasn't easy, she said.

"How do you start a relationship when you've got so many missing years?"

Eleven days later, Mrs Thompson's reply arrived.

"I said to my partner, I've waited 65 years for this letter. I just sat at the table crying and my partner said, 'Would you like to go see her?"'

Flights were booked and she made the long journey from the United Kingdom to Whakatane Airport this week.

All that had changed were their appearances, Mrs Polyblank said.

"It was absolutely just the same [being together]. We just talked and talked."