Hidden away in the Reporoa Valley, lies a manufacturing site that turns milk collected from local Kiwi farmers into unique dairy products that are shipped around the world.
At this time, it was home to the most modern casein factory in the country – being able to meet the high standards and stringent specifications demanded by world markets. 80 per cent of the site’s production goes in to making sodium caseinate – a highly nutritious product used in hospitals for sick patients. The other 20 per cent goes in to making total milk protein sold to America to be used in sports nutrition.
Throughout the early 2000’s innovation and automation was becoming more popular and Reporoa was always keen to sail with that ship.
Long standing employee, Valerie Moengaroa has been with Reporoa for 29 years and has witnessed some significant changes.
“Even seeing the pallet wrapping process move towards a less labour intensive automated system. We used to have to blow torch the plastic to shrink wrap product. That’s all done by a machine now,” says Valerie.
Fast forward 50 years and the site has only grown in size and capability. Going from processing 568,000 litres of milk per day to 3.2 million litres per day in peak season.
Every year, as milk collection grew from the original 217 shareholders to the now 329, Reporoa’s tanker depot worked around the clock.
Rex Woodhouse recounts his days at Reporoa in the Transport depot – serving 32 years.
“I started off as Reporoa’s Transport Manager in 1970. I had great relationships with my staff and they were always willing to go the extra mile. I was always proud of them,” says Rex.
“When it got a bit busy I was known to give the boys a hand and get in the truck from time to time. As our farmer base grew, I encouraged the site to take up night collection in 1981.
“Because my staff were good, they put their hands up to volunteer for night shift collection as part of a trial.”
Robert Spurway, Fonterra Chief Operating Officer Global Operations says, “Reporoa’s Golden Jubilee is an opportunity to celebrate with our farmers, our families, iwi and all the members of our community who have contributed to the site over the years.