A central North Island Maori trust plans to open what it says will be one of the most sustainable dairy factories in the world.
Waituhi Kuratau will build the new cheese processing plant near its Turangi farm, where it milks up to 5000 sheep. At present, it has truck the milk to its processing plant near Thames.
A trustee, Graeme Everton, says the new plant will be modelled on a pioneering Canadian facility, Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Company, which he says is the most sustainable dairy plant in North America for its energy and environmental design.
Fifth Town is powered by a windmill, Mr Everton says, along with eight solar panels that also feed energy onto a national grid.
He says it also uses cement caves to age the cheese, and has a bio-wetland system that changes a cheese-making byproduct, whey, into water.
The trust hopes to open the new plant in the next 12 months.