In his first official function as Minister for Corrections, Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis visited Whangarei to acknowledge long-serving Northland-based custodial and non-custodial staff.
The occasion was the Department of Corrections' annual Northern Region Long Service and Good Conduct Awards, where 53 Northland prison, probation and service staff received certificates, pins or medals for being in the job seven years or longer.
Senior officer Ben Poa topped the list for his 42 years of working for the Department, but was unable to attend the ceremony.
Two others, service manager Marty Maioha, who was there to receive for his presentation, and probation officer Neil Rowsell have both chalked up 28 years.
Three people were awarded for 14 years of service, and 47 for at least seven years.
In the wider Northern Region including Auckland Prisons as well, 125 staff members who have completed 7, 14, 21, 28, 35, and 42 years of service were acknowledged in total.
Collectively, they had contributed more than 1458 years of service.
Mr Davis said he was proud his first public duty as Corrections Minister was to be able to thank the department's staff.
When Jacinda Ardern was talking with MPs about new portfolios Mr Davis told her, "There is only one I really must have and this is it."
He said Corrections staff engaged with some of New Zealand's most challenging and difficult citizens.
Those staff worked with humanity and wisdom, daily making good judgments that improved safety and reduced re-offending, and often turned troubled lives around.
"To those of you who are on the frontline, I thank you," Mr Davis said.
"You and your families have every reason to feel proud today.
"Congratulations and thank you from the bottom of our hearts," he told the awards recipients.
Mr Davis shared presentation duties with Regional Commissioner Northern Corrections Service, Jeanette Burns.
Ms Burns described the men and women who worked for Corrections and associated services as "incredibly talented and wise".