Keeping It Authentic

Gavin Robins, Architect Director of Stiles and Hooker, who has a long held passion for dairy factories was commissioned to design Kaimai Cheese Companys’ new facility. Robins’ knowledge of historical dairy factory design stems from his childhood having been raised on a dairy farm which was directly opposite the Mangatoki Dairy Factory in the Taranaki region. As a young boy he spent many hours watching the process of cheese and butter making within this impressive, traditional, dairy factory powered by water wheels, pulleys and belt drives. He later wrote his Architectural Major Thesis on the development of dairy factories in the Taranaki region which focused on the history of dairy factory design. The brief from the Kaimai Board of Directors was to replicate some of the traditional building forms from the 1950’s and galvanise them with todays technology and efficencies. The facility was to include an upmarket cafe, cheese tasting facilities, sales and retail areas (which would provide public viewing of the cheese making process), training and cooking facilities and administration offices. This was to be designed to capture the ambience of historical values through the use of nostalgic memorabilia and recycled building materials salvaged from the old butter factory on the original Waharoa site. The design of this building centres on the traditional building forms developed and designed by Architect John A Dufill, a pioneer in reinforced concrete construction with 60 dairy factory designs to his credit. Dairy factory construction from the 50’s followed this trend. Photographic reference suggests each factory was individually designed although a number of synergies existed. The design for Kaimai Cheese Co Ltd. factory adopts the traditional forms of the 1950’s factories and emulates, to a certain extent, the historical form of the Waharoa Butter Factory which existed on an adjacent site until its demotion in 2005. Construction utilises precast concrete external walls, timber framed gable structures with weatherboard cladding, timber window joinery constructed using traditional profiles, corrugated iron roofing, gutters and exposed timber beams. The factory interior is constructed using modern finishes to meet MAF quality standards in hygiene. The retail area and café are constructed using precast concrete walls which are spanned by large, exposed, Oregon and Rimu trusses (salvaged from the Old Waharoa Dairy Factory). Surplus trusses have been recycled and used to good effect as exposed beams and rafters forming the roof over the Café area. Recycled tongue and grooved Rimu ceiling linings are used to compliment the timber trusses and joinery counter units to the Café. The Café flooring is recycled tongue and grooved Matai oiled to provide a rich contrast to the Rimu ceilings. The remainder of the internal finishes are natural concrete with painted timber window joinery. An air conditioned Office space is located within the roof space, over the maturation rooms, with visual connection into the retail space through glazing within the end of the timber trusses. Natural lighting is via windows, dormers and gables which provides a visual connection with roof forms and the exterior landscaping. The design brief specified the use of coloured roofing to give the effect of the old ‘red lead’ colours that were traditionally used on corrugate roofs in the 1950’s era. Architect Gavin Robins brief to Pacific Coilcoaters was to develop this colour especially for this project. The requirements were for a traditional appearance to stay in keeping with the historical flavour of the operation. The colour was trialled and matched to the new colour, Kaimai Red, by PPG. PCC ran the coil in ColorCote® ZR8TM which was then supplied to Dimond, Hamilton, for forming. The remainder of the building exterior is being progressively painted in a colour palette reminiscent of the era. The ridge roof vents are a combination of units salvaged from the old Butter Factory and new units constructed in identical detail. These are functional applications and not just for effect. An old concrete fire proof bunker was salvaged from another site and used as the basis for an outbuilding which houses water boilers and plant servicing the large kitchen juxtaposed to the Café. The building is sited in a prominent position to State Highway 2 and appears as if it has existed since the 1950’s. A number of patrons have unwittingly commented on how well Kaimai Cheese Co. Ltd. have restored the old Dairy Factory building at Waharoa. This is an endorsement to the success of fulfilling the clients original brief and vision....” to replicate a traditional building form that endorses the Kaimai Brand.”

Architects: Stiles and Hooker Ltd. Gavin Robins. Telephone 07 839 1254. Fax: 07 839 1255. e-mail: For more information on custom colours for Roofing and Cladding, or for interior applications, contact Pacific Coilcoaters 0800-ARXZRX,, or visit