In 2006, there were approximately 39 engineering companies in South Taranaki servicing the needs of the dairy and meat processing industries as well as the oil and gas sector.
The engineering sector initially grew from the demand created by the growth of dairy farming, dairy processing and associated primary industries, such as freezing works, and the need for general and infrastructure engineering. This led to significant levels of expertise being developed by the district’s engineering companies in the area of meat and dairy process engineering, using stainless steel and other metals in ‘aggressive environments.’ Skills and techniques gained from these two industries crossed easily into the oil and gas exploration sectors in the late 1960s and more recently, into the region’s growing yacht building industry.
The core engineering capability in South Taranaki District is centred on Hawera. Within a five kilometre radius there are approximately seventeen engineering businesses servicing the seven key processing sites. In addition to serving the needs of the local industries, 56 percent of the business of these firms was export focused.