One sign that ageism - or the perception of it - still thrives is the fact two of the women I interviewed for this piece declined to reveal how old they are.
The executive director of private training company Stellaris, Frances Denz, would only say, "I am well past retirement age."
The number, she says, matters. "I went to rent a car for the day, and I hadn't put a rinse through my hair and the guy said, 'You're not one of those speeding grannies, are you?' I was offended. You are judged by your age. I am being a bit coy about it and I know it's a pity because it spoils a good story."
I could probably work a bit less if I wanted, but there's only so much weeding in the garden you can do.
Frances' story includes more than 40 years as a teacher, a 29-year battle with cancer, publication of three hard-copy books and several e-books, membership on boards and honours such as becoming a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to businesses. And yet she won't disclose her birth year.
"I'm still running a business and have not retired. If I'd have retired, I wouldn't care."
I meet Frances at her new office and teaching space on Durham St in Tauranga's CBD. She says her company moved here a fortnight ago. The space is sparse. "I haven't even had time to buy furniture ... we've had an avalanche of applications." She says she'll keep working "...as long as I can stumble into the office and make a contribution. I would die without my fun at work. Every day is a joy. Every day I learn something new."
A couple of blocks away, David Wadsworth sits behind the wheel of bus number 786 on Wharf St. In a few minutes, he'll drive the long yellow cylinder to Papamoa via Bayfair. "It's fabulous going over the Harbour Bridge early in the morning and seeing Tauranga come alive," he says.
David doesn't mind telling me he's 67. He moved to Pyes Pa from Auckland about five years ago after decades in sales and marketing. He says he started with Go Bus four years ago because he needed something to do. He clocks up to 60 hours per week.
"I could probably work a bit less if I wanted, but there's only so much weeding in the garden you can do. I really love it ... the people contact; you're seeing lots of different people every day ... Some weeks you can have a variety of different runs, and that's what makes the job good, makes it exciting."
David starts work this week at 5.30am and finishes at 6pm, with breaks in-between. "It keeps me out of my wife's hair, definitely," he laughs.
One-third of Go Bus's 2100 employees nationwide are aged 60-plus. In the Bay of Plenty, around 112 staff (out of 350) fit that age bracket.
Spokeswoman Kura Poulava says Go Bus offers a career pathway for people in any stage of their career, plus training and discounted health insurance. "No one is ever too old to work for us if medically they are cleared and able to do so. We have people over 80."
Consultant and Tauranga social gerontologist Carole Gordon says New Zealand has the highest participation rate of older workers among OECD countries.
"It tells us those older people are well and want to participate, because there's a need to supplement their incomes, especially with the way rents have risen, and also to be able to go visit family, have a holiday, all those extra things that make life good."
Carole, who says she's in her 70s, says there is an opportunity for improvement in attitudes about more mature workers.
"We have to have a view shift that older people are capable and there are many areas of work where people are valued and continue on in part-time roles, and those roles are adjusted so they can still be part of a team."
She says as the birth rate declines, employers by necessity will make more accommodations to keep older workers. "Better working environment, more flexible hours and family and holiday leave ... increasingly, employers will use incentives to maintain skilled workers. We haven't reached that point in the general workplace."
Certified fitter Gavin Pilkington, who also does welding, has re-learned the value of his trade. He says he was made redundant in 2015 at 67 during a company downsizing.
There are quite a few people in the care industry who are 65-70 ... I have very flexible hours and don't work long hours by any means.
Last November, the Greerton resident got a job offer near Katikati engineering, welding and doing general labour. The 68-year-old works two or three days a week and cycles or mountain bikes on days off. "There's the satisfaction of doing a job, and it's on a farm, so it's quite scenic and it's a good friendly working environment." He says the pay is "definitely a help".
FLEXIBILITY AND INNOVATION
Grey Power president Jennifer Custins is also 67. In addition to her role with the senior advocacy organisation, she also works part-time as a caregiver. "There are quite a few people in the care industry who are 65-70 ... I have very flexible hours and don't work long hours by any means."
Jennifer says more employers must recognise the value of mature workers as mentors. "There's a lot of negative publicity about older ones taking jobs from younger people, but I think there's a lot of value in handing on those skills like time management."
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stan Gregec says finding a job when you're older is particularly hard. " ... as you're competing with younger people who bring a lot of perceived advantages - even though that may not be fair or accurate".
That's partly why he says we're seeing more "seniorpreneurs", creating their own jobs through a small business. "This is particularly the case with many recent migrants."
Back in the CBD, Frances Denz greets a group of new students. Frances says she doesn't begrudge peers who enjoy bridge, gardening or golf, but that's not her.
"I like people who learn new things and use that knowledge to debate and discuss, and quite frankly, golf doesn't cut it in that respect. My friends are not retired. A lot are my age, and we don't retire. We die with our boots on."