The West Coast Meat and Produce Company was established at Pātea in 1883. The canning and freezing works passed through several owners until it was bought by the Vestey Group in 1934. Employing over 800 workers, and with associated commercial and support industries, the works provided the economic basis of the town for many decades. Faced with substantial upgrading to meet European Economic Community requirements, they closed in 1982. In February 2008 the abandoned and deteriorating buildings were destroyed by fire. After extensive negotiations, a clean-up of the site – contaminated with asbestos and other toxic materials – began in late 2009 and was completed in mid-2010.
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Photograph by Andy Palmer
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