Applause and cheeky whoops filled the lounges at Okere House as awards were handed out to long-serving staff.

"Jan, I want you, I need you!" rest home owner Alistair Austin joked as he called up volunteer of 10 years Jan O'Neill to receive her award.

"Jan, we're sad to hear that you're retiring," he said. "I'm not!" Ms O'Neill exclaimed.

Residents and staff laughed as Mr Austin presented the award and a gift certificate.


"We really appreciate what you've done for us ... you're always here, you're always smiley. Really, we would be so sad if you did leave us."

Ms O'Neill said she always had a lot to say ... "but I've got nothing to say now".

"It's always been a real pleasure and as long as I keep going, I'll keep coming."

Next was staff member Eileen Edwards, who has worked at Okere House for 20 years.

"Man, that's a long time to be in any field today," Mr Austin said, presenting Ms Edwards with a voucher for a weekend away in Taupo.

"She's a really calming influence at this place ... done a stunning job," he said.

Mr Austin also had awards and certificates for Suzi Aki, for 16 years' service, and Joy Ngatuere, 17 years. He said it was "pretty special to be able to do what we've done today".

The awards were celebrated with a special afternoon tea.