Artist Lui Peti brings Northland's nature to life


Fonterra employee and artist, Lui Peti, has created a series of artworks for the Co-operative’s Kauri site, inspired by its Northland surroundings. 

Established in 1989, Kauri is the Co-op’s northernmost site and has a strong connection to the community and environment it operates in. 

The idea to create the artworks came about when the Kauri leadership team were setting their sustainability objectives for 2024. 

Rowan Hartigan, Kauri Site Operations Manager, says: “As a Co-op we recognise that we have an interaction with the taiao (natural world) and therefore sustainability is always front of mind.” 

“We all interact with the whenua (land), ngahere (bush), awa (river), and moana (sea) around us daily and we all have a role to play in our sustainability journey. We want our people to feel a genuine connection to the world around us, to care for our community and environment for generations to come.”

After being inspired by a local mural, the team decided a series of artworks would be a great way to encourage this connection. 

Blair Drysdale, Kauri Environmental Manager, knew they had a talented artist in the team, Lui Peti, and approached him with the project.

Lui Peti has been a process operator in the cream department at the Co-operative’s Kauri site for almost four years and says that for as long as he can remember he’s been an artist.

“Whether it was a school project or finding a quiet spot away from my large family to draw in my sketchbook, I have always been drawn to the focus and peace that comes with it,” says Lui.

I like to create things that push my abilities as an artist. It’s really rewarding when something from my mind ends up on a wall somewhere!

Lui Peti, Process Operator, fonterra Kauri

“I painted acrylic on canvas throughout my 20s and sold paintings in cafes, or wherever I could get my work hung, before switching to digital art in 2017 and selling art prints of my work online.”

Lui says that his inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere, “I like to create things that push my abilities as an artist. It’s really rewarding when something from my mind ends up on a wall somewhere!”

After working through ideas with the team, Lui got to work drawing three digital pieces that reflected the environment surrounding the Kauri site and Northland.

Lui says, “The goal with each piece was to remind everyone at Kauri why we do what we do, and to look after our environment. I wanted to show all the things that make Northland special, all the things we hold dear.”

Each piece contains familiar scenes from around Northland, from Shipwreck Bay, Rainbow Falls, to Elliot Bay, seamlessly intertwined with the blue and green Fonterra brand. 

“I wanted to show how Northlanders enjoy this beautiful land, from fishing, hiking, camping, and sightseeing. I also wanted to include those who we leave this land to, and so I painted my own two children, to represent the next generation who will have the chance to enjoy what we had if we look after it for them.”

The artworks were unveiled to the Kauri team in December, “the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive,” says Rowan.

Talking about the team at Kauri, Lui says: “My favourite thing is all the familiar faces. Everyone knows everyone and we all work together to get it done!”

The artworks are now on display at the Co-operative’s Kauri site – each piece is titled and listed below.  

Kia Toa – Be Brave, seek victory of the challenges that lay ahead.

Kia Kaha – Be Strong, trust in your strengths and the strength of those around you.

Kia Manawanui – Be Committed, stay true to the goal of making a positive change for future generations.

About Fonterra’s Kauri site

Established in 1989, Kauri is the Co-operative’s northernmost site, employing around 310 people, 280 of which are manufacturing or operational based. The site produces a range of milk powders, butters, and AMF (Anhydrous Milk Fat), which is used in chocolate, confectionery, and ice cream, for example. Many of the complex specifications for products can only be manufactured at Kauri. During the peak season, Kauri processes up to 3 million litres of milk every day.