Te Rapa celebrates 50 years


For over half a century Te Rapa has been a place of work, a producer of world class dairy, a supportive community and, for some, it has even been home.

Te Rapa’s official opening on April 20, 1968, was a milestone which represented the confidence the New Zealand Co-Operative Dairy Company (now Fonterra) had in the productive Waikato, it’s dairy farming community and its role in the national economy.

Te Rapa celebrates 50 years

“We had a real sense of community living in that village.  There was a swimming pool, tennis courts, a rugby field and always plenty to do when you weren’t working.  We had inter-factory rugby and netball competitions in the off season.”

Brian Whittington remembers when the site was being built and moving into the small village on site where 35 key staff members were housed.

Brian was appointed the dispatch driver to assist the transport office, organising the largest milk tanker fleet.

I had to organise 42 tankers to collect milk from 934 suppliers. There was chilled and un-chilled milk. The un-chilled milk had to be off the farm by 12.30pm and the chilled milk had to be off by 3.30pm.

Brian Whittington, Dispatch Driver, Fonterra Te Rapa


“Te Rapa had a lot to be proud of and the people who worked there have a lot to be proud of because we worked hard and we achieved lots of things”  Brian says.

Fast forward 50 years, Te Rapa’s dairy products have made a significant stamp on the 96 offshore markets it exports to. From the 1,000 local farmers, the site processes 7.5 million litres of milk a day in peak season - enough product to fill nearly 50 shipping containers per day.

The site has been an early adopter of new systems and a showcase for the milk powder industry. Throughout the early 2000’s, innovation and development became increasingly significant, with automation, robotics, and digital technology replacing valves, buttons and paperwork.

Lindsey Pijnenburg, Processing Advanced Operator, is in his 35th year and over that time has worked in several different roles.  “I’ve had the chance to work with some great people and have been here for expansions, technology changes and even a fire." says Lindsey.

I remember when the plant burnt down.  There was a lot of pressure to get it back up and running.  We used cloth nappies and toothbrushes to clean the entire plant – so many that we actually cleaned New Zealand and Australia out of nappies

Lindsey Pijnenburg, Processing Advanced Operator, Fonterra Te Rapa