Brenda Adams cannot be faulted for loyalty.
Tuesday marked 50 years since she began work at the business now known as North Otago Motor Group.
The quietly-spoken woman, who would much rather have had the milestone go unnoticed, was surprised with a morning tea attended by staff and many former workmates.
A colleague said Miss Adams thought she had got away with it, until a mass of balloons arrived in her office. They included a huge silver number 50, so Miss Adams tried to convince everyone it was her 50th birthday.
Her 18-year-old self joined Otago Motors on September 3, 1969. As North Otago Motor Group managing director Peter Robinson said at the morning tea, the population of New Zealand at the time was 2.7million, Keith Holyoake was prime minister, Rob Muldoon was finance minister, and Norman Kirk was leader of the opposition.
The first network news broadcast on television was read by Dougal Stevenson, the HT Holden had just been released, and Apollo 11 had landed on the moon.
The business was renamed Wrightcars in early 1971 and moved to its Severn St site. It then became John Rush Motor Group in 1989, and changed to the present name in 1993.
Miss Adams was promoted to administration manager in 2001, a role she maintains today.
“That’s a great effort,” Mr Robinson said, before everyone burst into applause.
He said the word “matriarch” was perfect for Miss Adams – a woman who is head of a family or tribe.
“She’s still doing a wonderful job for us. She has done through all those years.”
Accuracy and dedication characterised her work, Mr Robinson said.
Miss Adams said the years had “gone very quickly”.
She had dealt with a lot of changes in the technology used in the office, and had seen many staff come and go.
The line-up of vehicles had also changed hugely throughout the five decades.