28 Feb 2014

Oldest dairy company celebrates centenary

1:39 pm on 28 February 2014

The country's oldest dairy company, and also one of the smallest, turns 100 this year.

The Tatua co-operative in Waikato starts its centennial celebrations this weekend with a book launch.

Hundreds of small local dairy companies have come and gone or been swallowed up in mergers as New Zealand's biggest export industry developed, but Tatua chief executive Paul McGilvary says Tatua has remained fiercely independent.

"We've found that the ability stand alone has actually helped us over thre years," he says, adding that a strength has been the focus on niche products.

Seven founding farmers signed the original deed of incorporation in 1914 and one of those families is still a fourth- generation shareholder.

A book on Tatua's first 100 years, written by Ian Hunter, will be launched at a fair on Sunday, with 700 guests expected.

That's the start of a series of centenary events.

North Otago meat plant also turning 100

There are also centennial celebrations this weekend in North Otago.

The Alliance meat co-operative's Pukeuri plant, near Oamaru, began operating in 1914 as a sheep abattoir. It's now North Otago's biggest employer, with more than 900 working there at the height of the season.

Plant manager Geoff Proctor says there's a gathering of past and present employees on Friday night, a centennial dinner and a book launch on Saturday night and a plaque unveiling next week.