Some workers and managers extol older colleagues as diligent, experienced, good in a crisis and great mentors.
Others report older colleagues (57 or older) don't work as hard, are more stuck in their ways, less able to relate to others, more prone to health issues and not very technically savvy.
The varying views are outlined in The Impact of an Ageing workforce on NZ Business (2012) and Ageing in the Workforce in the NZ Crown Entity Sector (2014), available online.
It seems our fast-greying workforce is a complex trend to analyse. But we'd better get a handle on it, because older workers are coming.
Kiwis are having fewer children, living longer, putting less aside to retire on, and finding they have to - sometimes want to - work well into their 60s.
From an aged worker participation rate of 19 per cent in 2011, it's projected that about a quarter of the workforce could be "aged" by next year.
Only about 5 per cent of workers were 65 or over in 2011 and pundits are predicting an explosion in this age level. They say workers aged over 65 will make up at least 10 per cent of the workforce by 2030. One estimate is that those pushing 70 will make up 25 per cent of the workforce by then.
Career management specialist, Kaye Avery, who has studied this area, says mature workers find it hard getting past the gate-keepers when going for jobs.
Long before the interview, they encounter a phalanx of wary recruiters - graduates in their 20s - who seem certain their clients won't want older candidates.
Kaye encourages older clients to tap into the networks, alliances and relationships built up over years.
"These could include previous colleagues, employers and suppliers, everyone they've done excellent work for, because that's how they'll probably get their next job.
"Generally those of mature years are more perceptive in using their time efficiently.
"They tend to have depth of knowledge on the products, services and people in the business. They've learned the relationship stuff over many years, so can manage office politics by working through the issues, rather than reacting."
Kaye has clients who, following a redundancy or late career changes, have proved themselves as gems in new roles. Most aged under 65 have become computer literate, she insists, "often very computer savvy".
"I'm a believer in the principle of eldership in the workplace, the potential to nurture and encourage younger employees. Employers are foolish to ignore the contribution mature employees can make."
Simon Bennett, chief executive of Madison Recruitment, says to ignore mature workers is to disregard the changing face of business.
"I don't just mean that there'll be more mature people around, though that's part of it. I mean that in terms of workforce planning, companies still seem to expect to do what they always did. They expect to get young and smart people on board, have them for 10 of years or so and move one or two into the leadership team in that time.
"But these days an employee is more likely to move on about every three years, perhaps soon that will be every year and there's also more use of contractors. It would make sense to utilise that mature person, the former manager or CFO, for an inbetween role or contract position. Tap their experience to the benefit of the organisation and balance up the age-range within the team.
"They won't earn what they once did, but there are other ways to interest them. Just as we've realised we must attract women re-entering the workforce, companies will have to actively attract mature workers. They created incentives for Gen Y but there's little idea what older employees want.
"Maybe it will be a shorter working week or time off to see grandkids play sport. I don't know, but I doubt it's drinks on Friday night."
Auckland Council has been actively recruiting older workers from the building trade to help its push to ease the city's housing crisis.
"Auckland Council is a very complex diverse organisation with a diverse range of positions, as such we cannot afford to have age bias - either young or old. We value all employees for the contribution they can make irrespective of age," says talent consultant manager Annabelle Klap. "This is part of the accepted culture in the organisation and how we work."
Engineer Paul McKinney, 65, says he experienced no bias when he applied to become a building inspector with the council, a role he has now held for about three years.
Paul says he left the corporate world looking for a change from office politics, and "a role which involves communicating with everyday people".
He believes older operators receive more respect in the building industry than in many other areas of professional life.
"My age didn't seem to come into it - they were more interested in what I could offer."
He has embraced a high energy vocation that puts a huge demand on workers, feels stimulated in his role and helps to train younger inspectors.
"I've still got energy and I've got a brain, so I appreciate this opportunity."
Once the youngest senior manager at Fisher & Paykel, McKinney claims New Zealand has a strange attitude to mature workers.
"In Europe and the United States the manufacturing or the marketing managers in a plant would invariably be aged in their 60s. Then I'd come back to New Zealand and find the same position invariably held by somebody who looked just out of their nappies. What is it in the New Zealand psyche that makes us so sure that when you've reached your 50s, you're buggered?"