25 Oct 2011

Fonterra a world winner, says first chairman on 10th birthday

6:12 am on 25 October 2011

Ten years after the merger of New Zealand's two biggest dairy companies and the Dairy Board to create Fonterra, the co-operative's first chairman says he's glad he dug his heels in to get it running.

Fonterra celebrated its 10th birthday on Monday by hosting seven Labour Day events around the country.

John Roadley was the last chairman of the New Zealand Dairy Board and the first chairman of Fonterra, overseeing the industry's transition from multiple local co-operatives to a single, farmer-owned company.

He has been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to the dairy industry and in 2009 was granted an honorary doctorate from Lincoln University.

He says the early Fonterra years were some of the most traumatic of his life but he feels proud the company has become a world-winner.

Mr Roadley, who has retired to a vineyard in Blenheim, says the global economic downturn has had an impact on the company but it's still in a strong position heading into the next decade.

Fonterra gave away sausages and ice-cream at its birthday events.

The shareholders' councillor who headed the Hamilton event Grant Wills says the turn-out there exceeded expectations.

He says entry to the events was by gold coin donation and Fonterra will donate $20,000 to each event's nominated charity.