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The Old Dairy Factory - A place of International Innovation in Dairy Science


At first glance you might see a modest and unassuming building. Yet in less than 100 years this building has become an important part of the story of New Zealand's dairy industry and Massey University.




Built in 1928 as a dairy factory for the newly created Massey Agricultural College (today known as Massey University) and Dairy Research Institute, the design reflects the influence of the Chicago School of Architecture. Architect Roy Alston Lippincott also designed the old main building and refectory of the agricultural college.   These two buildings are visually linked to the dairy factory through similarities of style such as hipped roofing, broad low eaves and the use of stylized Maori motifs on the building exterior.   There are few examples of this style in new Zealand.


This dairy factory has been the home of internationally recognised innovation in research in dairy science and the dairy manufacturing industry. Highlights include the isolation of bacteriophages in New Zealand cheese starters in 1953 and in 1950 the vacuum pasteurization of cream.   During World War Two the factory processed milk for the Palmerston North "Milk in Schools" scheme and handled the production of milk fat for the armed forces.   The factory continued to be used as a training and research facility for Massey University students in dairy technology until the late 1960s.


In 1992 a major renovation programme rescued the neglected building and won a New Zealand Institute of Architecture award.   The award cited the sympathetic renovation, enabling its important cultural heritage values to be protected into the future.   The old dairy factory is registered as a "Category I" historic place in recognition of its significant cultural and historical values and the important contribution this building has made to the national and international development of New Zealand's dairy industry.




Today the BCC are proud to work from this historically important building and continue to promote innovation within New Zealand, with the generous support of building owners AgResearch.   As an innovation centre that turns inventive ideas into business BCC transfers new technology from the lab to the marketplace and in doing so helps solve problems in the dairy, agricultural, horticultural, plant genomics, food security, nutrition and health and environment industries. The building is ideally placed for these activities in the Fitzherbert Science Centre alongside New Zealand's largest cluster of bio researchers.