Maungaturoto will be celebrating 150 Years in 2013

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The North Kaipara Co-Operative Dairy Company Co Ltd. 1904 - 1915

Opening Day 1904

Many who go down to Whakapirau would have noticed the old building located next to the current wharf. Over the years it has seen use as a Community Hall, Oyster factory and currently for storage for a local commercial fisherman. I had an opportunity recently to view the interior and photograph it. However, this old decaying building didn't start life as a hall or an oyster factory. It was purpose built in 1903/04 to house the butter manufacturing operations of the North Kaipara Co-operative Diary Company, and for eleven years it served the supply areas of Whakapirau, Paparoa, Matakohe and Ararua - before amalgamation with the Maungaturoto Co-operative Dairy Company in 1915.

Wharfside view of the old North Kaipara Butter Factory at Whakapirau

The following is from The Maungaturoto Co-Operative Dairy Company 1902-1952, P19

The North Kaipara Co-Operative Dairy Co. Ltd 1904 - 1915

Area: Whakapirau, Paparoa, Matakohe, Ararua

Unfortunately, no records of this Company are available and the following account is a brief memory effort.

The Maungaturoto Company in the year 1903, made an attempt to cater for the above area by aquiring a creamery at Ararua previously operated by Mr Frank Pheasant. It was planned to convey the collected cream from Matakohe Wharf by steamboat to Maungaturoto. The plan was good, but it was defeated by the failure of the shipping company to carry out its undertaking. After a year of trial, the district was abandoned.

The reader is reminded that at this period (1903) long road haulage was not feasible owing to the bad roads everywhere. The motor launch had not yet arrived and the advent of the motor truck for cream cartage dated ahead to 1920.

The comparative isolation of the times led to the establishment of dairy companies in many of the settlements. Many of these, at a later date were amalgamated when better roads and the motor truck permitted a measure of centralisation.

The North Kaipara Company began operations in 1904, provided with a butter factory built on concrete piles, at the Whakapirau Wharf, creameries at Matakohe and at Ararua, a motor launch to operate on the tidal waters of Paparoa and Matakohe. This motor launch was the first to appear in the district. The first Directors were Messrs H. McMurdo (Chairman), J. Morris, W.H. Angel, Ernest Smith, S. McCallum, Alex. Smith, Chas (Charles) Gaille. The first manager's name is forgotten - he was succeeded by A.M. Campbell (five years), A.M. Sterling (four years), G.J. Grant (two years). These three managers, all having clerical knowledge were also secretaries to the Company. The launch transport shortened, but did not eliminate, considerable road haulage, and the dual expense was a heavy charge. There were other difficulties - tidal delivery of cream made for extended hours of factory work; when springs dried up, there was insufficient fresh water and sea water had to be used for all purposes; there was no market for buttermilk until Manager Campbell added pig feeding to many other duties. The pig branch proved both interesting and profitable. Despite a large contributory area, dairy development was disappointingly slow and the output never reached the point of low overhead and low manufacturing costs. The circumstances pointed to the advantages of amalgamation and eventually the Directors, in 1915, opened negotiations with the Maungaturoto Company. These were finalised by an agreement whereby most of the suppliers became members of the Maungaturoto Company and the absorbed company received £1,200 as compensation for its supply and its assets. The butter factory was sold and became a community hall; the manager's house, transported on a barge, found a permanent location at Maungaturoto. This short-lived Company justified its formation and operation for eleven years; it catered for the farmers in a wide area at a time when no other company could or would do so. Its main service was promoting the growth of co-operative dairying with its uplife to the farm economy of the district.


  1. That's really interesting Liz, I never knew that's what it was.

  2. I asked one time what it had been used for. It was quite important during its time. Glad it's still standing.

  3. Has anyone collected memorabilia? I have come across a recipe book using Kaipara Instant Skim Milk Powder and Kaipara Malted Milk. I would like it to stay in the area if anyone is interested?