New Zealand Refrigerating Company

New Zealand Refrigerating Company Limited founded 1881 by a committee led by John Roberts killed New Zealand livestock at its Burnside Works built in 1883 in Green Island Dunedin, froze the carcasses and shipped them for wholesaling in Smithfield, London.

New Zealand Refrigerating Company Limited
bought and absorbed by CMC in 1905
TypePublic listed company
IndustryMeat export
Founded19 August 1881; 141 years ago (1881-08-19) in Dunedin, New Zealand
FounderCommittee chaired by John Roberts
Defunct1 May 1905 (1905-05-01) and then operated by CMC
Fatepurchased and absorbed by Christchurch Meat Company Limited
Areas served
New Zealand, United Kingdom
ProductsFresh and frozen lamb, beef and meat of other animals, offals and the by-products
New Zealand Refrigerating Company Limited
formerly Christchurch Meat Company Limited
renamed Waitaki International Limited[1]
IndustryMeat export
Founded7 January 1889; 134 years ago (1889-01-07) in Christchurch, New Zealand
FounderJohn Cooke (1852–1917)[2]
Defunct15 December 2015 (2015-12-15) Waitaki International Limited
Areas served
New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States
ProductsFresh and frozen lamb, beef and meat of other animals, offals and the by-products

In 1905 Christchurch Meat Company of Islington bought New Zealand Refrigerating Company Limited and on 25 August 1916 Christchurch Meat Company took its subsidiary's name as its own.

The main New Zealand Refrigerating Company works at Islington near Christchurch was operated over the last quarter of the 20th century by the same company finally trading as Silver Fern Farms. The works closed in 2008.

The site in Islington was acquired early in the 21st century cleared and rebuilt as a business and industrial park, Waterloo Business Park, named after Waterloo Road on its eastern boundary.

New Zealand Refrigerating CompanyEdit

S S Mataura in dry dock

A committee was formed in Dunedin early in 1881 but it was not until New Zealand Shipping Company's steamer S S Mataura arrived over twelve months later that New Zealand Refrigerating Company directors: John Roberts, Edwin Spence and Alexander Begg took responsibility for overseeing the loading of freshly killed stock owned by runholders for freezing on board ship. As well as the 3,844 sheep, 6 bullocks and 77 sucking pigs the Mataura carried: hares, rabbits, fowls, ducks, barracudas, hapuka, pūkeko, frost fish, cheeses, hams and a cask of penguin skins. The New Zealand Refrigerating Company made a tiny profit but the shipping company's costs of the voyage exceeded their freight charge. The shippers on their own account were pleased with results but the overfat sheep were unsaleable.[3]

Canterbury Meat Export CompanyEdit

The Canterbury Meat Export Company from its canning works in remote Templeton (now Islington), Christchurch, pigs were brought in to dispose of the waste, made New Zealand's first meat exports in 1870. Defective tins, over-supply and a period when station-owners were unwilling to take the risk of having their own livestock canned led to the company's liquidation and the acquisition of the plant by the Bank of New Zealand. The plant was recommissioned in 1879

Canterbury Frozen Meat and Dairy Produce CompanyEdit

In Christchurch John Cooke (1852–1917) formed The Canterbury Frozen Meat and Dairy Produce Company in March 1882. Cooke had acquired the Templeton works of Canterbury Meat Export and plant in Belfast. CFM did not take Templeton but bought some of the land at Belfast and a new freezing works at Belfast was in operation in February 1883.

Canterbury Frozen Meat Company (later renamed New Zealand Refrigerating Company)Edit

The old Templeton canning works long back in use became the site of a new Freezing work in 1889 erected by the newly formed Canterbury Frozen Meat Company, secretly promoted by John Cooke. The new company with its directors and shareholders almost entirely from Belfast Northern Ireland bought the farmers' livestock taking the risk of getting a good price in London. This arrangement had great appeal for small farmers. The trade became established but unregulated shipments created shortages and gluts on the British market and farmers who shipped on their own account found it difficult to check on the activities of possibly unscrupulous buyers.

Canterbury LambEdit

This is the company that established the reputation of Canterbury lamb in Britain.

Killing capacityEdit

Advertised daily killing capacity in 1927:[4]

Sheep and lambs
  • 50 Islington
  • 50 Smithfield
  • 200 Imlay
  • 30 Picton
  • 50 Burnside

Businesses bought by CMC / NZREdit

Year founded and year bought by Christchurch Meat Company / New Zealand Refrigerating Company
1882 New Zealand Refrigerating Company, Burnside 1905[5]
1885[6] South Canterbury Refrigerating Company, Smithfield 1895[7]
1881 Towers & Company London 1915
1891[8] Wanganui Meat Freezing Company, Castlecliff 1926[9] (and closed)
1891[10] Nelson Brothers (London), Blenheim 1897
1897[11] Wairau Freezing Company, Spring Creek 1899[12]

25 August 1916 Christchurch Meat Company changed its name to The New Zealand Refrigerating Company Limited[13]

1916 New Zealand Refrigerating Company, Imlay[14]
1924 G B Field & Company, London 1930
1958 New Zealand Meat Packers Wanganui 1964


1914 Christchurch Meat Company, Pukeuri 1922 Waitaki Farmers Freezing Company

Christchurch Meat Company Pukeuri near Oamaru 5 Mark 1914 taken over by Waitaki Farmers Freezing Company in 1922


  1. ^ "WAITAKI INTERNATIONAL LIMITED (120281) Removed". New Zealand Companies Office. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  2. ^ Australian Dictionary of Biography
  3. ^ Cyril Loach, A History of the New Zealand Refrigerating Company, Caxton Press, Christchurch New Zealand 1969
  4. ^ New Zealand Refrigerating Co. Ltd. The Times, Tuesday, 22 February 1927; pg. vi; Issue 44512
  5. ^ New Zealand Refrigerating Company. Otago Daily Times, Issue 13250, 5 April 1905
  6. ^ Telegrams.Otago Daily Times, Issue 7328, 11 August 1885
  7. ^ Omnium Gatherum. Otago Daily Times, Issue 10443, 20 August 1895
  8. ^ Omnium Gatherum. Otago Daily Times, Issue 9137, 9 June 1891
  9. ^ Wanganui Meat Works. Otago Daily Times, Issue 19696, 25 January 1926
  10. ^ Notes From The Wairau. Nelson Evening Mail, Volume Xxv, Issue 79, 4 April 1891
  11. ^ Nelson Evening Mail, Volume Xxx, Issue 207, 2 September 1896
  12. ^ The Freezing Works. Nelson Evening Mail, Volume Xxxiii, Issue 189, 14 August 1899
  13. ^ General News. Christchurch Press, Volume Lii, Issue 15678, 25 August 1916
  14. ^ New Zealand Refrigerating Company, Ltd. Christchurch Press, Volume Liii, Issue 15826, 15 February 1917