Weddel’s World 1977 – April

Weddel’s World

KAITI – in conjunction with Gisborne Sheepfarmers Freezing Co. Ltd.

Registered at Post Office Headquarters Wellington as a magazine.

APRIL, 1977


The Chairman of the Meat Exporters Council, Mr W. F. Leonard, warned farmers in March not to overact to the recent fall in the price of lamb in Britain as this was not a true reflection of the lamb marketing situation. Mr. Leonard said that lamb prices in Britain traditionally fell during the first two months of the year, and this fall had always been followed by greater interest by wholesalers and retailers to push sales of New Zealand lamb.

He was confident this situation was about to take place in Britain.

Mr Leonard said he was disturbed by reports from London about the catastrophic fall in the price of lamb, and reports that prices had fallen to record low levels.

“This just simply isn’t true, and has led to an overreaction, largely emotional, over the recent drop in wholesale prices for our lamb.”

Mr Leonard pointed out that the facts were that New Zealand lamb was showing what really should be considered an artificially high price throughout November to early February. The situation had been compounded because there were inadequate supplies of lamb available for volume sales due to the interrupted start to the killing season and the price had remained artificially high.

“Then around the middle of February large supplies of lamb arrived in Britain and the price dropped, but this price drop was accentuated as the reduction over a period of two weeks reflected the normal fall that would have occurred during a six week period in other seasons.

“For example the PM grade was selling ex-depot at the beginning of January at 48½ pence per pound and this dropped to 42½ pence in February, but in 1976 the comparative prices for the same period were 34½ pence and 30½ pence.

“So the comparative price fall this year has been only two pence more but what everyone is forgetting is that the present low price is still 33 percent higher than last year.

“This has been reflected by the fact that the current schedule is still about 50 percent higher this year to the farmer than last year’s rates and reflects the fact that the situation has become over emotional now,” Mr Leonard said.

The Executive Chairman of Towers and Company of London, Mr John Buxton, said he fully agreed with Mr Leonard’s views but added that the present situation had emphasised the need for a properly organised strategy for New Zealand lamb sales to Britain.

Mr Buxton, whose company is the marketing company for four major New Zealand meat exporters, was visiting New Zealand for discussions with his partner companies.

He said that the present situation in Britain should never have arisen as it was the result of a severe shortage of lamb towards the end of 1976 as a result of the success of the lamb diversification policy.

While he saw the true value of diversification Mr Buxton said that it should be run in conjunction with marketing to Britain, which still was and would remain New Zealand’s largest market.

“Diversification should be developed and not run as an ad hoc exercise as it is at present.

“A steady flow of product is necessary to such a large market as Britain.

“Because of the lamb shortage last year sales in the final quarter were 50 percent lower than predicted and this led the price to rise to 48½ pence per pound a level it should never have reached.

“At this price New Zealand lamb would have met customer resistence, a circumstance that the industry could not really afford in a market where it is competing against cheap meats such as pork and poultry.

Mr Buxton stressed that lamb was not alone in coming under pressure, as the prices of all other meats had fallen, precipitated by the devaluation of the Irish pound which led to imports of cheap Irish beef.

He said the situation had also been aggravated by rumours of an extremely tough budget towards the end of the year, the result of which was a dramatic increase in spending on durable goods.

As a result meat had come under pressure and with reduced money available for food, meat consumption had fallen.

But overall he was optimistic about the future of New Zealand lamb for the rest of the season.

“One of the retail market leaders, the Sainsbury supermarket group, has already reduced its retail price list, and this will have the follow-on effect of encouraging consumption.

“It will also put pressure on other retailers to follow suit, and this in conjunction with the large Meat Producers Board promotion, should see an increase in lamb sales with a resultant rise in wholesale prices.

“Even though, through extraordinary circumstances, sales are presently well down, I have no doubt the exporters will be able to market all the product expected in Britain this year.

“I see no reason why New Zealand lamb should not yield a mean price of 45 pence per pound ex depot for a PM lamb over the year based on an expected volume of 220,000 tonnes, provided, and I must stress this, the present intervention price is withdrawn.

Mr Buxton said that the success of New Zealand lamb on the British market was threefold: it was consistent, it was well promoted, and it represented good value to the consumer.

“The third point is the most important and we must be careful that we don’t force the price too high or we could see the same situation again.” Mr Buxton said.

Japanese Interest in NZ. Meat Meals

Japan is expressing increasing interest in importing meat and bonemeal from New Zealand.

During a recent visit to Fletcher’s operations, Mr K. Tanmoto and Mr Y. Nakamaru of Toshoku Ltd made this point in discussions on future supplies of meat and bonemeal.

The two men inspected the production of meat and bonemeal at the Westfield Freezing Company and Nelson’s (N.Z.) Ltd’s Tomoana works in Hastings.

To date Toshoku’s main interest has been in the Tomoana product which they said was regarded to be the best imported from New Zealand, and Mr Tanmoto said that his company had many customers who insisted on being supplied only with the Tomoana brand.

He said that Toshoku believed that market trends in Japan indicated a regular and increasing demand for protein meals from New Zealand, and his company was therefore keen to cover their customer’s requirements from surplus production which becomes available for export.

Both Mr Tanmoto and Mr Nakamaru considered their visit to New Zealand to be very beneficial and said they were impressed with the production and standard of the meat and bonemeal manufactured at Fletcher’s works.

Photo caption – Mr K. Tanmoto, at Tomoana, with from left, Mr H.J. Beauchamp, W. & R. Fletcher’s by-products manager, Mr A. Edwards, the Tomoana works manager, and Mr G. Armstrong, assistant manager, by-products.


The commissioning of the new cold store at Nelson’s (N.Z.) Ltd’s Tomoana works in Hastings due later this month will signal the first stage of completion in the construction of the works’ new sheep killing operation.

The cold store, which has a storage area of 10,000 cubic metres, will immediately be phased into the present killing operations at Tomoana.

A direct contrast to the traditional cold store, the new building is constructed of painted galvanised mild steel panels which encompass about 20 cms of polystyrene insulation. This panel construction enabled the speedy erection of the cold store as opposed to former methods involving thick brick walls lined with substantial cork insulation.

The store has a covered load out area so that unloading can be carried out in all weathers.

Construction is now well underway on the major work of the $22 million programme, the new six chain mutton slaughterhouse which is due to be completed by late next year.

The three storey building, which lies adjacent to the main works, includes an unusual structural design because it will lie across the main entry to the works and will consequently incorporate a tunnel to maintain the present traffic flow.

With foundation work and the sinking of the main columns well underway the building’s outside shell is due to be completed by the end of the year. The electrical, plumbing and mechanical installations will then be fitted prior to the major job of surfacing the killing and dressing area to meet all present MAF and international hygiene regulations.

The plant, design fittings and working procedures have been the result of intensive study of the latest developments in the industry by the Meat Industry Research Institute of New Zealand and the most up-to-date overseas practices.

One of the major improvements in design is the introduction of stands for the dressing chain, which is nearly four metres above the floor area, the first time this method will be used in mutton slaughter in New Zealand. The stands are built at variable levels, similar to the process used on beef chains for some years, to give more comfortable working conditions for most processes as butchers will no longer have to bend to complete their respective processing operations.

Other technological improvements include the introduction of electrical stunning, a more humane form of slaughter, and spear sticking of the carcases to meet new hygiene standards. The carcases will also undergo an electrical stimulation process as part of new tenderising procedures before they begin their passage down the dressing chain.

The design of the chains allows for the easy adaption of any new techniques that may be introduced into the industry in the future such as automatic pelting machines now being run on a trial basis in some works under the joint agreement of the employers and unions.

Each chain will be tested on completion but production will not start in earnest until all chains are completed, expected to be in time for the 1978-79 killing season.

With the killing area on the top floor, the first floor will house first class amenities for the workers including changing rooms, showers and a dining room, and the ground floor includes the processing of offal, casings, calibrating and skid and gambrel cleaning as well as an inedible product area. In addition there will be chiller space for carcases for local sales.

The design of the tier freezing tunnel has just been completed and construction is expected to start next month. The freezer, being built by Refrigeration Engineering Ltd, will be able to handle a capacity of 22,000 carcases daily to meet the expected peak season kill of some 100,000 lambs a week.

The freezing process incorporates another innovation of freezing the carcases “naked” and then applying the stocking wrapping as opposed to the traditional process of wrapping the carcase before freezing.

In the tunnel the carcases will be channelled to various rooms for the overnight freezing process according to grade and possible market destination.

The present mutton slaughter house will be incorporated into the new operation on a minor level to handle slipe wool and pelt processing. This will require the construction of a flume piping system for the new operation to the old building to transport the skins some 250 metres from the slaughter floor to the processing area.

Photo captions –

Tomoana site engineer, Mr A.G. Copland (left) and the Wilkins and Davies project manager, Mr David Whitfield, reviewing progress on the excavation work for the mutton complex.

Two workmen lifting one of the new lightweight insulated wall panels for the cold store.

Preparatory work on the sinking of the columns for the new mutton slaughterhouse.

N.Z. Meat Being Promoted in Hawaii

The vice president and sales manager of A.H. Hansen Sales Ltd of Honolulu, Mr Joe Dacey, reviewed the progress in the sale of meat to Hawaii with the assistant general manager of W. & R. Fletcher (N.Z.) Ltd, Mr Peter Johnston and Mr Dennis Frederickson of the export sales staff during a recent visit to New Zealand. Mr Dacey, whose tour of the Pacific area also took in Australia, Taiwan and Japan, said his company were promotors [promoters] of New Zealand beef and lamb throughout Hawaii. Hansen’s, who are the largest meat suppliers in Honolulu, have been dealing solely with Fletchers for 22 years. Last year they imported more than 840 tons of New Zealand beef and 33 tons of lamb, about 20 percent of the area’s meat imports and this year their share of imports for the first quarter had risen to 33 1/3 percent.


The new secretary and chief accountant of W. & R. Fletcher (N.Z.) Ltd, Mr Anthony Byrne has taken up his responsibilities succeeding Mr R.M. Scott, who has retired after 41 years’ service with the Vestey organisation, the last 26 being with Fletchers’ in New Zealand.

Although this is the start of his career in the meat industry, Mr Byrne has a wide and varied knowledge of international financial transactions necessary for this important export trade.

After graduating as a Bachelor of Commerce from Wellington’s Victoria University, and becoming a chartered accountant and a cost and management accountant, Mr Byrne went to London in 1964 where he worked for two years for Arthur Young & Co., chartered accountants. He then went to Peat Marwick Mitchell & Co in Hong Kong for a four year period and in 1970 joined the Union Carbide Corporation in Hong Kong as finance manager for their local subsidiairy [subsidiary]. In 1971 he was transferred to Manila as the finance director and treasurer of Union Carbide’s Phillippines [Philippines] operations.

In late 1974 Mr Byrne was transferred to Union Carbide European headquarters staff in Switzerland, working from Geneva as a financial control manager responsible for financial and accounting controls in companies based in France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.

He has been involved in the administration of companies which have operated in many markets important to New Zealand meat exports, and has a wide knowledge of the intricate and technical financial methods required for foreign trade with these countries which should prove invaluable to Fletcher’s in its overseas operations.

Mr Byrne, his wife Jean and two children, Patricia, 5½ and Michael, 4, returned to New Zealand for personal reasons.

“Both my children were born overseas and my wife and I, who are both New Zealanders, thought it was about time that they were given a chance to know their own country.

Mr Byrne lists his hobbies as tennis, cricket, fishing, and understandably a keen interest in the sharemarket.



In autumn last year W. & R. Fletcher purchased 3,200 culled beef breed cows and grazed them on Lochinver Station, which is controlled by Stevenson’s Holdings, a property of more than 10,000 hectares (approx 25,000 acres) situated halfway between Taupo and Napier, on the Rangitaiki Plains.

Lochinver has an extensive carrying capacity which is increasing as a result of the systematic development being carried out under the supervision of Ross Stevenson, son of the chairman of the group, Sir William Stevenson.

The cattle were purchased from clients in surrounding districts at a time of intensive demand for killing space. After being paddocked and settled in, the cattle went on to a diet of high quality grass silage, supplemented with hay each day. The mammoth task of feeding out was simplified by the use of conveyor units, all of which were serviced by mechanised loading and unloading facilities (pictured above). This operation was implemented to accommodate Fletchers clients during a difficult period and when the peak of the season had passed and farmer demand for space eased, the cattle were then programmed through to the Company’s Tomoana Freezing Works at Hastings, for processing. A welcome bonus from the scheme was that it kept the works beef butchers operational for an extended period.


Holding the rifle in the left of the photograph of the mortar platoon (below) is PTE Gerken M.W.L., Reg. No. X984996, Admin/SP. Coy, 40 South, alias Marty Gerken, the assistant manager of W. & R. Fletchers Stockfoods factory at Mataura, just south of Gore, in Southland.

He was on the Otago/ Southland 4th Battalion’s annual exercise at Lake Coleridge (North Canterbury) and at Lake Tekapo (Mackenzie County) over a two week period in January.

Marty obviously spends his annual leave in a different way from the vast majority of young New Zealanders. However he finds the army life both educational and challenging and also most rewarding.

After Compulsory Military Training was abolished in 1973 he had no hesitation in joining the Territorial Force Volunteers. He says the discipline required to master the technical aspects of the training they undergo, allied to the physical activity, all helps to broaden one’s outlook on life, a view shared by his army associates.

In a year Marty gives a total of 520 hours to the Territorial Force, consisting of 20 two hour night parades, 6 twenty four hour day parades and 14 days annual camp.

Marty, who joined W. & R. Fletcher staff in Invercargill in 1968, can’t see the pattern of his annual leave altering for some time yet.

He is also a keen softballer when time permits.

Incidentally the Stockfoods factory manager W.D. (Bill) Coster also has ties with the Territorial Force. His son, Police Chief Inspector Peter Coster of Christchurch, is a major in the Canterbury Regiment.


Auckland livestock buyer Kevin Hurley has “crossed the fence” to take up full time farming and will prove a knowledgeable and formidable seller to is counterparts in the future. Kevin is pictured above holding his farewell gift with well wishers from the livestock department from left, Wally Knight, Athol Harding, Jack Grey and Adam Turnbull.

All his friends and colleagues wish Kevin and his wife Glady success in the future and look forward to continued dealings with him in his new role.


Five members of the Westfield Freezing Company were recently presented with gold watches to mark their respective 40 years’ of service with the company. Pictured above after the first of the presentations with the Westfield general manager, Mr G.T. Taylor (centre) are four of the recipients (from left), Mr. D.W. Verall, Mr A.O.E. Hearn, Mr T.M. Clayton and Mr L.G. Souness. The fifth 40 year staff member, Mr A.S. Turnbull, received his watch the following day at another presentation, and he is pictured in the farewell group with Mr Kevin Hurley. (page 3)

The supervisor of the Westfield Freezing Company’s typist pool, Mrs Edna Thorburn (seated centre) pictured with some of her staff at a farewell function to mark her retirement after 25 years’ service with the company. Her Westfield colleagues wish Edna and her husband a long and happy retirement.



Westfield were the unexpected winners of the first group cricket competition held at Taupo in February, beating Patea by 29 runs in the final. Team Captain Bill McMillan was presented with the WRF Shield, made by Tomoana, by the works general manager, Mr Michael Sanders, who distinguished himself by bowling a “hat-trick” during the tournament.

A side attraction in the final was the appearance of a streaker who moved a lot faster than some of the senior players on the field.

Westfield won the shield through great bowling by Andy Parkinson (8-16), tight fielding and an opening partnership of a century by Ross Whittle and Alan Parker out of a total of 184.

For Patea S. Metcalfe took 4-25 and Les Wilson 2-16. Top scorers for Patea in its total of 155 were H. Gibbs 40, D. Cameron 42.

Tomoana – 176 (M. Berkett 62, M. Sanders 38, HS. Pauling 3-6) beat Wellington – 142 (T. Parry 32, N. Papatsoumas 41, M. Sanders 6-20, G. Armstrong 3-10) in the playoff for the Wooden Spoon.

Patea beef grader Les Wilson showed he is still a force to be reckoned with on the cricket field when he scored a brilliant unbeaten 101 for Patea in a match against Pihama. Les is a Taranaki cricket selector and the Patea second grade coach. Despite his superb innings, Les’s side could only manage a draw.

The Patea cost accountant, Ken Ward, was selected to play for the Taranaki colts cricket team in its match against Auckland over the Christmas vacation.


“One of the last of a dying race of fair dinkum stockies” was the phrase used to mark the retirement of Mr Gordon “Killer” Cameron from the Westfield Freezing Company.

Mr Cameron, joined the company 30 years ago, was the Westfield Stockyards foreman for the past 16 years.

In presenting Gordon with a farewell gift the Westfield general manager, Mr Gordon Taylor spoke of his many attributes and thanked him for his valued service to the company All the best to Gordon and his wife in their retirement years.


We record with regret the sudden death of Peter Martin of Head Office Staff on January 6, aged 27. Peter started with Gisborne Refrigerating Company in 1968, where his father, Mr Frank Martin is a director, and in 1974 transferred to Westfield as a test clerk. He came to the Production Dept., Head Office, in October 1976 and rapidly developed into a hardworking and efficient member of the Wellington Office team.

Peter was a competitive sportsman who excelled at rugby and achieved representative honours for Poverty Bay as a five-eighth. He merited widespread respect from his associates for his altruistic demeanour both on and off the sporting field.

Condolences also to the family of Doug Kitt, the assistant foreman in the Tomoana works Stockyards, who died recently after a short illness. Doug, one of several of the Kitt family to work at Tomoana, had been with the company for 25 years.

The general manager of Nelsons (NZ) Ltd, Mr Michael Sanders, presenting a gold watch to Mr Bert Fleming to mark his 40 years’ service with the company, while Mrs Fleming looks on. Mr Fleming has been the assistant foreman in the fellmongery since 1947 being in charge of the skin wash and paint table area.


Munro McLennan has taken up the position of nutrition and technical advisor to the NZ. Stockfoods Company at Westfield.

Richard Lightfoot has taken up a position as draughtsman in the Engineers Department, Wellington head office.


Dave MacMillan to head grader and Roy Sims to senior works clerk at Tomoana, and Johnny Johnston to senior stockyards foreman and Mavis Tobeck to head typist at Westfield.


Mr Lloyd G. Souness, Assistant General Manager of the Westfield Freezing Company Limited, joined the Company as a junior clerk on 25/ – per week in 1936, and apart from four years’ service with the New Zealand Artillery during the Second World War, has now served forty years with the organisation. Lloyd was in charge of the Livestock Department from 1949 to 1965 and for three years of this period was also Livestock Buying Superintendent for the Auckland and Northland district. In 1965 he was appointed as Assistant to the General Manager where he became very much involved in works production and marketing matters. In 1976 he was appointed Assistant General Manager of the Westfield Freezing Company Limited. Looking back on the changes that have occurred in the industry Lloyd says, “They are many and varied and have not all been for the good of the industry but I would not have missed it for anything. There has never been a dull moment!”

Lloyd’s spare time hobbies include camping and fishing.

W. &. R. FLETCHER NZ.) Ltd.

Original digital file


Non-commercial use

Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 New Zealand (CC BY-NC 3.0 NZ)

This work is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 New Zealand (CC BY-NC 3.0 NZ).


Commercial Use

Please contact us for information about using this material commercially.

Can you help?

The Hawke's Bay Knowledge Bank relies on donations to make this material available. Please consider making a donation towards preserving our local history.

Visit our donations page for more information.


Surnames in this newsletter –

Armstrong, Beauchamp, Berkett, Byrne, Buxton, Cameron, Clayton, Copland, Coster, Dacey, Edwards, Fleming, Frederickson, Gerken, Gibbs, Grey, Harding, Hearn, Hurley, Johnston, Kitt, Knight, Leonard, Lightfoot, Lloyd, MacMillan, Martin, McLennan, McMillan, Nakamaru, Papatsoumas, Parker, Parkinson, Parry, Pauling, Sanders, Scott, Sims, Souness, Stevenson, Tanmoto, Taylor, Thorburn, Tobeck, Turnbull, Verall, Ward, Whitfield, Whittle, Wilson

Business / Organisation

W & R Fletcher (NZ) Ltd

Date published

April 1977

Accession number


Do you know something about this record?

Please note we cannot verify the accuracy of any information posted by the community.

Supporters and sponsors

We sincerely thank the following businesses and organisations for their support.