Meet David Thwaites

Cheese Plant Manager at Fonterra Edendale

Edendale celebrated 140 years in operation earlier this month – on January 18 1882 the Edendale dairy factory commenced operations, placing the first batch of the cheese on the press at 3pm sharp.  The site is still going strong as NZ’s oldest dairy processing site.

46 years since his first day, Cheese Plant Manager, David Thwaites, is still living and breathing cheese and now heads up the team at Fonterra Edendale’s cheese plant.

“I was due to finish up school and I didn’t know what I wanted to do next. I got offered the job at Edendale and started the very next day. I quickly grew a passion for crafting cheese, and learned you had to be fit with all of the manual handling,” says David.

“We worked hard and then we played hard. There was plenty of events – we were one big family and you just enjoyed each other’s company. Over the years we have produced some award-winning cheeses, which we are all proud of.

“When I first started, they were still delivering milk by car and trailer to site. We made our own starter for the cheese cultures.

“If we look at the innovation over that time, key to cheese making has been consistency. The cheese when I started could at times be variable. Now it’s extremely consistent.

“Cheese is a living organism. And very much like my career, cheese matures over time. It starts off very mild and then you get it out to three or four years and our end-product is extremely tasty – which is a victory.”

“As a rugby player for 20 years, I believe team sport is no different to working within a workforce. If you look smart, you play smart. It’s the same in the cheese factory. You do things well and get the rewards out of it.

“On the rugby field you have some passion and pride in what you do, I’m proud to say the same about my job and team at Edendale,” says David.