Few volunteer firefighters serve 25 years, and thus qualify for a Gold Star, but the Karikari Fire Brigade had no fewer than three recipients of the award on Saturday night.
They had been significantly delayed - the honours night was the brigade's first in nine years - but Northland's Principal Rural Fire Officer, Myles Taylor, described the triple celebration as a "quite spectacular" achievement.
Chief Fire Officer Thomson Lawrence, Paki Lawrence and Boyce Lawrence had between them given 94 years to their community, he said, Thomson accounting for 33 of those years.
The presentation of the gold stars was the culmination of an evening that saw service honours presented to a number of other brigade members, including 14-year long service and good conduct medals for Thomson Lawrence, Clifford Lawrence, Paki Lawrence and John McMahon. Silver medals were presented to Repia Hita, Josh Raharuhi, Wiremu Steel, Steve Waters, Rakaia Kerrisk, Wyvern Roff, Mark Tufuga and Ali Busby, and silver medals plus bars to Lorraine McMahon and John McMahon.
A medal and bars were presented posthumously to Graham Snowden, and were accepted by his widow Caroline Snowden.
A number of other awards were also presented, including for attending the most musters (Firefighter Phil Rako) and for the brigade's most dedicated member (Station Officer Wiremu Steel).
The Graham Snowden Memorial Trophy was presented, for the first time, to Firefighter Thomson Tomtom Lawrence, who was named Firefighter of the Year. The trophy was described as representing determination, leadership and courage, qualities that had been shown by the man who gave it his name, and many others.
Prior to presenting the gold stars, Taylor described the Karikari Fire Brigade as very special.
"This community is very lucky," he said.
He had been involved with the brigade for a decade or more, as the region's Principal Rural Fire Officer, beginning with a "traumatic year" in which the volunteers had lost a couple of friends. The willingness of members to serve not only their community but others much further afield had been exemplary, however.
"I want to thank them, and all volunteers, for the effort they put into serving their community," he said.
"This brigade has been a real anchor for us in Northland. Every time I've asked for support it's been given, whether that's at 3am or on Christmas Day.
"No one can over-estimate just how valuable these people are."