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What a difference 30 years can make

  • December 11, 2019
  • 2 min read

This year Fonterra’s Kauri site in Northland is celebrating its 30th birthday. We spoke to a few employees who have been there from the start about the changes they’ve seen over the past 30 years.

When Gavin Donnelley first stepped onto Fonterra’s new Kauri site 30 years ago he thought it was more like a hospital because it was so ‘flash and clean’ compared to the dairy factory down the road he had been working at.

Gavin is part of a handful of staff at the site who have been there since operations began in September 1989 and he says a lot has changed in those 30 years. 

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“When I had my interview for the job I was told we’d be processing as much in an hour than we did in an entire day, and I thought that just isn’t possible.

“I was blown away by the technology, the closest I’d come to computers prior to starting was playing Pacman at the local fish and chip shop.”

Over the last 30 years the site has expanded to three plants including the only fractionation plant in New Zealand. It is the Co-operatives only site that makes spreadable butter for both local and overseas markets and processes up to 3 million litres during peak.

More than 300 people work at Kauri and its these people Ray Critchley says are the reason he’s still there.

Ray has been working in the industry for more than 45 years – the last 30 of these at Kauri.  When he first started he says they used to tie the bags of powder with rubber bands.

These days technology plays a big part in the day to day operations of the site but Ray says at the end of the day the site is just concrete and stainless steel, it’s the people that make it.

I was blown away by the technology, the closest I’d come to computers prior to starting was playing Pacman at the local fish and chip shop.

Gavin Donnelley

Paul Somers and Donna Crowe are also part of Fonterra’s 30 year club – Paul is part of the transport team and says the tankers have moved from ones that were ‘possibly the worst configuration you could have for milk’ to state of the art trucks.

Donna has seen a big shift in the number of women involved in the industry – she says it’s good to see a lot more women working in dairy today, but would like to see even more.