Hundreds gathered for the official opening of the new Cobb-Vantress chicken hatchery farm in Rangiriri, Waikato.
Cobb-Vantress president and overseas bosses received a pōwhiri from local iwi in a show of support for their new partnership.
“This is excellent,” says local elder Pat Kingi, “Excellent employment that has been given to our children and grandchildren, that's the most important thing.”
“It's just great to be here and be a part of,” says global president Joel Sappenfield, “It's been a long undertaking but to have everyone here and to welcome us has been truly an amazing event.”
US company bosses were keen to experience the indigenous culture of the locals.
“I had about five and a half years off work to look after my great-grandchildren,” says local Cobb-Vantress employee Lola Hingaia, “They're old enough to go to school now so that's me back into the workforce again and I'm so grateful for Cobb being here.”
While there is much support from local marae cluster Ngā Muka Development Trust and Waahi Whānui Trust since the build began two years, on social media the chicken hatchery has received criticism.
“Animal welfare is one of the key things of our company,” says Sappenfield, “We are great stewards of the environment and the animals we're entrusted with.”
“Who of us are criticising them?” says Kingi, “Those who have been employed are happy with their jobs.”
Production operations will begin in May.