The dairy industry, including farming and processing, is the most economically significant industry in the Waikato district and a critical contributor to the regional and national economies.
There are more than 300,000 dairy cattle in the district, the third largest concentration of cows in New Zealand. The Waikato has the highest average milk-solids production per hectare in the North Island (where 76 per cent of dairy herds are based).
Waikato dairy farmers supply New Zealand’s largest company, Fonterra, which is significant player in global dairy trade. More than 200,000 cows are milked daily in the region with an average yield per cow of 17.45 litres of milk each day.
There’s no better place to grow things than the Waikato! The temperate climate, rich soils and pastoral conditions make it an ideal place for raising animals and cropping. It’s no wonder that historically, the Waikato was known as the food-bowl of New Zealand, with the Waikato River used for transporting food products grown by local Māori.
Today the Waikato continues to be a major source of agricultural production supplying both domestic and international markets. It boasts a diverse range of livestock. In addition to dairy cows, beef cattle, sheep, deer, pigs and goats are all farmed in the district alongside more exotic breeds like ostrich, emus, alpacas and llamas.
Poultry farming is a major industry, supplying both chicken meat and fresh eggs.
Crop growing and processing is a significant sector in the district’s economy. More than 20,000 tonnes of maize are harvested annually and more than 90,000 square metres of indoor vegetables, including herbs, cucumbers and lettuce are grown. The district has more than 4,000 hectares of land dedicated to growing outdoor fruit and vegetables. There is a significant Waikato-based mushroom growing industry.
The Waikato region boasts the second highest proportion of plantation forests in New Zealand with just over 3.2 m3 of exotic timber harvested as at March 2012. In the same period Waikato district saw 134 hectares of new exotic forestry plantings, 248 hectares of harvested exotic forest planted and just under 124,000 cubic metres of exotic forest harvested.
A number of timber processing sites are based in the northern part of the district, close to major transport routes linking to the Ports of Auckland. These sites manufacture a range of specialised products for commercial and domestic construction, farm and marine purposes.
Lumbercorp NZ Ltd
366 Lumsden Road, Rangiriri, Waikato
Lumbercorp is a wholesale supplier of timber products to the New Zealand, Australian and Pacific Island markets.
New Zealand Timber Preservation Council website
Tuakau Timber Treatments
Bollard Road, Tuakau
Tuakau Timber Treatments website
Ahead Lumber Limited
SH 2, Pokeno
Max Birt Sawmills, Ohinewai and Pokeno
Max Birt Sawmills website
Coal mining is the major extraction activity in the Waikato with the industry employing more than 1,200 people. In 2011, the Waikato produced 1,813.8 kilotonnes of coal, the entire output for New Zealand’s North Island. Coal prospecting and exploration expenditure from 2009-2011 was in excess of NZ$17 million.
Mines including the Huntly East Mine, Rotowaro Mine, Mangitangi Mine and Kopuku Mine produce fuel for operations including the Huntly Power Station, Glenbrook Steel Mill and major milk processing plants around the Waikato.
In addition to coal, there are a number of aggregate quarries and sand mines in the district that supply an increasing domestic demand required to sustain construction growth in Auckland, Canterbury and other regions.
Since 1969, iron sands have been mined in the district at Waikato North Head, a plant close to the mouth of the Waikato River.
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Waikato is a major energy region, producing up to one third of the nation’s total renewable (non-thermal) electricity. Almost 40 per cent of installed generation capacity is in the Waikato including five thermal plants, 10 hydro plants, seven geothermal plants and one wind farm.
New Zealand’s largest thermal power station is Waikato district-based, at Huntly, and can provide up to 20 per cent of the nation’s total electricity needs. Huntly Power Station can use either coal, gas or both simultaneously as fuel. Coal is sourced from Waikato district-based coal-fields.
The district’s 28-turbine wind farm is at Te Uku near Raglan. It can generate enough renewable energy each year to fuel around 28,000 average New Zealand homes.
The Waikato is also an important corridor for the Maui gas pipeline stretching from Taranaki to the Huntly Power Station and on to Auckland. There are more than 2,500km of high-pressure transmission pipelines across the North Island of New Zealand and more than half of the distribution pipeline and service connections are in the Waikato.
The New Zealand Energy Strategy aims to have 90 per cent of all electricity needs being met by renewable forms of energy by 2025. With the infrastructure and personnel in place, the Waikato is poised to continue playing a key role in the energy sector.
Waikato District Council provides water and wastewater infrastructure services throughout the Waikato district. The council works in conjunction with neighbouring councils in order to maximise efficiencies and manage wastewater and stormwater sustainably.
The Council uses a mix of owned and contracted water and waste water assets.
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This sector comprises motor vehicle and transport equipment rental and hiring, farm animals and bloodstock leasing, heavy machinery and scaffolding rental and hiring, video and electronic media rental, leasing, property operators and real estate services. In 2013, the sector contributed 6.5 per cent to the Waikato district’s gross domestic product and has contributed to a GDP increase of $64 million over the previous 10 years.
This sector includes construction services, building construction, road and bridges, housing, non-housing and related construction services. Construction contributed $118 million to GDP in 2013 and $33 million in economic growth over the last 10 years. From 2012 to 2013 the sector grew by 10.1%, the third fastest growth rate over the period.
A hugely diverse manufacturing sector thrives in the Waikato region, benefiting from the region’s location advantages, low cost structures and excellent lifestyle opportunities.
There are than 2000 manufacturing businesses, employing in excess of 21,000 people, some of them highly-skilled. They are dominated by food processing and packaging, stainless steel and electro-technologies manufacture and include a range of niche operations.
Specialist manufacturing businesses exist within the aviation, electronics and automation, trailer manufacturer, marine and aluminium extrusion sectors. Most Waikato-based manufacturing companies are involved in the export sector or supply other exporters. Their contribution to the regional economy is significant.
Manufacturing in the district was a strong performer in 2013. It contributed $87 million or 4.4% to GDP. Over the 2012 -2013 period, manufacturing in the district grew 3.7%.
This sector is well represented by meat and meat product manufacturing, fruit and vegetable and dairy product manufacturing as well as other food manufacturing.
With a new dairy factory in Pokeno, a new milking systems manufacturer at Horotiu as well as other manufacturers currently establishing themselves in the district, further growth is anticipated in the sector.
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In the Waikato district there are more than 50 primary/intermediate schools, four high schools and a number of tertiary education providers either in the district or very close by, including Waikato University and Wintec (both based in nearby Hamilton). The world-ranked Auckland University is less than 90 minutes’ drive from the furthest point in the district.
As a productive sector, education and training contributed $80 million to GDP in 2013 (4% of total GDP). This is a stable sector with no significant growth since 2002 however; recently interest and effort in improving early childcare services and vocational training may point to an increase in sector performance.
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Public administration and safety accounted for 3.2 per cent of the Waikato district’s gross domestic product in 2013. Since 2002 it has been responsible for a $33 million increase in GDP.
This industry comprises central, state and local government administration, justice, domestic and foreign government representation, defence, police, investigation and security services, fire and emergency services, correctional and detention services and regulatory services. This sector is expected to grow as the population of the district continues to increase.
There are six police stations in the Waikato district, seven fire stations and six ambulance bases. The district also includes a prison, the Spring Hill Correctional Facility.
The contribution to GDP from the healthcare and social assistance sector was $2.4 million in 2013. Annual growth is currently 7.5%, which may be reflective of the growing population and some service providers' future proofing for the expected district growth in some towns within the district. The growth rate of the previous ten years has been 1%.