About 140 firefighter, family members and friends turned out at the Havelock North Volunteer Fire Station on Saturday night to pay tribute to their longest-standing member.
Alvan Wakeford, 70, was awarded the Double Gold Star for putting in 50 years' voluntary service.
Some other members of the brigade were awarded service honours at the evening but a spokesman said it was effectively devoted to honouring Mr Wakeford.
"He was pretty humble about it - he didn't want us to do anything but we weren't going to let this pass by."
Mr Wakeford said the two round numbers, his age and years of service, made it the best time to retire.
He was the first member of the Havelock North Volunteer Fire Brigade to notch up 50 years service. "That is something very special, but then he's a pretty special sort of a guy," the brigade spokesman said.