Topic: KEA Industrial Area

Topic type:

While the land on Tamarangi Drive opposite the Tasman Mills is now known as the KEA Industrial Area, businesses were operating here as early as 1953.

 This area was first used for Retail and Industrial businesses in 1953 until 1956. The first business in this area was Bryce and Stace operating a general store,which sold anything and everything. The original Bryce and Stace store was situated near the Fletcher’s Construction camp at Onepu, on the corner of Onepu Springs Road where the entrance to the airfield was. Shortly afterwards the decision was made to move the Fletcher’s camp to the south side of the mill site along Bridge Road (now Tamarangi Drive). At the same time, Bryce and Stace moved their business to Bridge Road opposite the new camp site. At this time they enlarged the size of their building.

Shortly afterwards other businesses established themselves in the same area. Jim Barr’s Snack Bar and McChesney’s Shoe Store were opposite the Council Depot. OnAdolph's Cycles & Motors July 1955 the other side of Emere & Paora Ngaheu’s house were the premises of McGlynn’s Menswear, Adolph’s Cycles and Motors, Bryce and Stace on the road front with Kawerau Engineering and Kawerau Rental Cars behind. Further along the road was the Paeroa Beer Agency, Kawerau Fruit Supply and Ross Neiderer Car Sales next to Johnny Broderick’s Service Station. Magnus Lennie also had a business in this area. On the corner by the road to Lake Pupuwharau was the original TAB. The premises which these businesses operated from were only temporary and were demolished when the permanent shopping centre in the town was completed. Some of the temporary businesses including Adolph’s Cycles and Motors and McChesney’s Shoe Store had moved into the new premises in the town centre by 1957.

The area used for the temporary businesses remained unoccupied until Kawerau Enterprise Agency commenced building KEA One in 1986. Tasman Pulp & Paper’s Graham suggested the KEA concept  in 1984 following his visit to Britain where he had seen Enterprise Agencies backed by corporates. A steering committee was set up to develop the idea. It included Ron Wells, Graham Ogilvie, Ron Hardie, Bill Lockyer, Allan Baker, Bev Adlam, Frank Duxfield and Lyn Hartley. Allen Mayo and Alison Beer from Tasman Lumber were also key contributors in the early stages, although they weren't a part of the initial start up team, a few years later they were key to KEA's survival. Other key people included long time Chairman Peter Sligh who ensured Tasman's ongoing commitment and Kawerau Mayor Lyn Hartley who kept Council on board despite some strong opposition and the risk of loss of support in Council and in the community. Council support was doubly important because Fletcher Challenge had made Tasman's commitment contignent upon community involvement.

KEA was formed as an Incorporated Society, registered on the 14th March 1985. The initial funding was made up from:

Kawerau Borough Council $25,000
Tasman Pulp & Paper Co $25,000
Tasman Forestry $12,500
Tasman Lumber $12,500
Kawerau Business Assn $ 8,076
Govt (CEIS) $25,000

In the first year, 1985, KEA took a head lease over the “Tasman Lodge” for use by small scale businesses. The head lease arrangements were that KEA maintained the buildings, and paid a retainer back to the landlord, Tasman Pulp & Paper Co. This had a two-fold effect in that it created a direction of independence and maintained the assets of the town while creating the new business locations needed within the town. With the initial funding a temporary measure, with Tasman due to dismantle the Tasman Lodge, KEA set about raising capital to build an Industrial Park. Graham Ogilvie of Tasman Pulp & Paper Co saw this as a measure to assist the community to adjust to the forth-coming reductions in manning levels at the mill. Community Bonds were issued at high interest rates to attract ownership in the proposed development. This did not raise the full amount of capital required so, Tasman (now Norske-Skog Tasman and Carter Holt Harvey Tasman) provided a loan to KEA for up to $1 million dollars, secured over the building and land of the Industrial Park. The terms of the loan were that it could be taken up partially or all as cash or guarantor facilities, for an indefinite period of 0% interest rates. All excess revenue generated by the Park was to be held in Trust until such a time as the Community Bonds were repaid first, and then the Tasman loans were to be repaid.

A number of enterprises started in KEA 1 in 1986. This building filled quickly so a decision was made to build KEA 2 alongside. This was funded with another issue of Community Bonds and a further interest free loan from Tasman. The Bonds were repaid as they fell due in 1990-1992.

The Park enjoys a high level of occupancy and gives KEA a significant profile. It is envisaged that a private venture (KEA 3) will be built within the next 2 years on land sold. The income from the Industrial Park funds KEA and surplus was used to repay the original loan. The Industrial Park has further land available for development, and KEA is working with both Whakatane and Kawerau District Councils and local land owners to secure additional land for lease and industrial development.

This area has gradually developed into the industrial hub it is today with businesses located in the Manukorihi and Paroa Street area of Kawerau. These businesses provide retail, specialised workshops and trades people to service the mills and town.

The Sir James Fletcher Kawerau Museum curated an exhibition on the KEA Industrial Area September 2013 - March 2014.


Moore, Ken. "Kawerau: Its history and background". 1990.

Rimmer, Kel

KEA website:

KEA Industrial Area