News   |   25 January 2017

GBC Portland celebrates 100 years of supporting NZ Infrastructure

Whangarei, 25 January 2017 – Today, the Golden Bay Cement Portland plant celebrates 100 years of supporting New Zealand’s infrastructure growth.

Fletcher Building’s Building Products Chief Executive Matt Crockett joins employees, local dignitaries, suppliers and customers to celebrate the milestone at the site, just south of Whangarei in New Zealand’s North Island. The event marks the commissioning of a new 6,000 tonnes storage silo and ship loading facility upgrades representing a NZ$30 million investment in the Portland plant.

Matt Crockett says Fletcher Building is proud to support New Zealand’s only local cement manufacturing facility. “The Portland plant has a history of innovation. It was founded 100 years ago on the belief that New Zealand could manufacture its own cement rather than import it from Great Britain. We are proud of this legacy and pleased that the significant upgrades will ensure Portland continues supplying high quality cement to New Zealand for the next 100 years.”

The upgrades are part of a three year programme with significant capital investment to improve New Zealand’s national cement supply chain. Other improvements include innovative storage pods for Golden Bay Cement’s South Island distribution facility and the 20 year lease of the MV Aotearoa Chief, a new 9,000 tonne capacity transportation ship.

The Portland plant began in December 1916 but can trace its roots to back to 1884 when Nathaniel Wilson founded the Wilson Portland Concrete Co. Three generations of Wilson men worked at the site and this tradition of generational support continues today with many parents and their offspring in the 145 strong workforce.

Over the years Portland developed a reputation for supplying high quality domestic, commercial and specialist structural products to the New Zealand building industry. It has supplied cement to some of the country’s most innovative infrastructure projects including the Clyde Dam, the Sky Tower, Wellington’s Victoria Tunnel, Tauranga’s Harbour link and Auckland’s Waterview Tunnel.

Innovation is another hallmark of the site. Originally, it was powered by workers and horses, then coal and trains, and in recent times has introduced a biofuel wood waste product into its kiln to help reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

The Portland plant invests in the local community by drawing supplies from the area, as a major employer and user of Northland infrastructure and as a sponsor of the Portland School and Kindergarten, Portland Fire Brigade and the Northland Chamber of Commerce.

 

The Golden Bay Cement Portland plant’s environmental commitments include modern particulate matter and combustion gas management systems, the installation of a state-of-the-art truck wheel wash to reduce road dust contamination.

Portland has also rejuvenated a number of local environments including Lake Waro, a fish pass on the Otaika River, and various wetland and coastal walkways. It is also a major sponsor of Matakohe (Limestone) Island. This previous site of the historic cement plant now has reserve status and is being restored to provide a predator free home to kiwi and other native and translocated species.

Today’s 100th year celebration included the unveiling of a commemorative sculpture by local artist Aaron Ellis-Smith. Aaron used a stone from the local Paradise Quarry to create the piece which includes a fern carved into the face of the stone reminiscent of the fossils found in limestone in Portland. The fern is an important symbol to many New Zealanders representing growth and new life. The silver fern was laid side up as a marker for navigation by night to guide new opportunities and prosperity.

Golden Bay Cement's Portland plant celebrates 100 years

Golden Bay Cement's Portland plant celebrates 100 years
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