Whakatū meat workers reunite

By Aroha Treacher
  • North Island: East Coast

Thirty years on since the Whakatū meat works closed its doors, some of its former workers gathered to pay tribute to those that have passed on. Next to the 1931 Napier earthquake, the 1986 closure was the biggest disaster to hit Hawke's Bay with more than 2000 losing their jobs. 

Greeting old friends and rekindling old relationships, 30 years on since the meat works closed.

Former employee Ngatai Konia says, “The spiritual essence of today is to re-kindle the memories of all our colleagues who have passed on.

It was October 10 1986, when a region already hit hard by unemployment suffered a major blow.

Former employee Bevan Taylor says, “I heard it announced on the television, it was closing. I sat on my bed and felt so sad I began to cry because this was our entire livelihood.”

Original TV reports said a drop in livestock numbers meant the works had to close to keep other meat plants open.

Former employee Ngahiwi Tomoana says, “We were forced to go all over the place looking for work, heading to different towns all over the country, some even overseas so they could provide for their families.”

The Whakatū community will continue to acknowledge the contribution of those workers and their families.

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