Hautapu is located in the heart of the Waikato and we’ve had a site here for more than 120 years.  

Our Hautapu site specialises in producing high-value products – for example, casein, lactoferrin, hydrolysates and whey protein concentrate.

We employ about 300 people there and are involved in the local community – including investing in a range of sponsorship initiatives. 

The site is a top performer in eco-efficiency and sustainability.  Wastewater from our manufacturing operations is treated and returned to the natural environment through irrigation on our nutrient management farms. 

Our nutrient management farms

We own 29 farms throughout the country around our manufacturing sites to help us with our treatment of wastewater from our manufacturing operations and nutrient management. At Hautapu we utilise three of these farms.

When managed well, process wastewater from our factories can be irrigated onto grasses and other crops to help them grow.

Where we don’t have stock on the farms, we harvest the crops to turn into animal feed. This creates a circular model for nutrient management, which provides us with a system that is good for the environment as well as business.

Treated process wastewater

As part of always working to do what’s right for the environment and community we’re committed to working to improve our processes. One area that’s a focus for us is water.

At all our manufacturing sites, we take steps to make sure our plants are operating as efficiently and effectively as possible with limited impact to the environment. Treated process wastewater is a result of our manufacturing cleaning procedures and small amounts of milk residue that is then either used on our nutrient management farms or disposed of as per consent conditions.

In addition to treating process wastewater, where we can see there’s opportunities to save water we are investing in water saving initiatives at a number of our sites throughout the country.

What we are doing

The treatment of process wastewater starts with our operations.

We make sure our cleaning processes are optimised and milk residue is minimised. This limits the amount of nitrogen, phosphorous and other organic components in the water.

We use a range of treatment processes to clarify and clean the wastewater before we irrigate onto our nutrient management farms or discharge it once treated, into the Waikato River (in accordance with our consent).   

Currently, at Hautapu, we do this by utilising dissolved air flotation (DAF) plants. These plants clarify process wastewater by releasing dissolved air under pressure, which attaches to suspended fats and solids as it rises to the surface of the DAF tank, removing them from the process wastewater.

Why we need a new process wastewater treatment facility

At Hautapu there’s room to make changes and to keep ahead of changing environmental best practice.  To do this a new facility is needed to treat wastewater from our processing operations (process wastewater). 
This new facility will help to improve water quality and sustainability of the site and our nutrient management farms.
We’ve considered a number of factors and are proposing a tank-based system utilising Enhanced Biological Phosphorus Removal to be located on our Hautapu site.  

VIDEO: Watch the detailed process of how we treat process wastewater.

What the facility will do

At the new facility process wastewater will flow through a tank, segregated into several sections, where microorganisms break down any organic matter (mainly milk residue) and reduce nitrogen (including nitrates) and phosphorous from the process wastewater.  

The water then goes through a clarifying process where the microorganisms settle out and are returned to the treatment tanks, leaving clear treated process wastewater.  

When soil conditions are suitable the treated process wastewater is irrigated onto our nutrient management farms.

When soil conditions don’t allow for irrigation, it goes through a final filtration and UV light step. UV lights work to kill any bacteria and phosphorous is reduced even further through filtration before discharging into the river as per our proposed resource consent.


Groundwater is located underground in layers of water-soaked rock or gravel, often referred to as the water table. It comes from different sources including rainfall, lakes, rivers, and streams.


Around a third of the water used in New Zealand comes from groundwater.

Nitrates found in groundwater

There are many factors that contribute to nitrates being present in groundwater.

These include horticultural activities, like market gardens (fruit and vegetables), septic tanks, farm effluent systems, synthetic fertilisers and irrigation of process wastewater (including industries other than dairying).


How Fonterra treats water from factories.


Nitrates and our manufacturing sites infographic.

Contact us

For more information contact us: Hautapu.community@fonterra.com


Annual Report 3Bs and Satellite Farms


Annual Report Stormwater and River Discharge


Wastewater Treatment Facility, Hautapu Landscape and Visual Assessment Report


New WWTF Assessment of Noise Effects


Cambridge WWTF Preliminary Archaeological Assessment


Integrated Transport Assessment


Assessment of Potential Odour Effects


Letter to community site

Embracing sustainability

We’re committed to producing dairy nutrition in a way that cares for people, animals and our environment, and brings value to our communities.