The Creamy Dragon Strikes Again

In Cloverdale, Fonterra, Kaipara Co-operative Dairy Company, River Valley on April 15, 2011 at 10.46

This “Cloverdale” brand Ice Cream Mix tin was up for auction a little while back. I have never seen one before or since, but in the meantime a couple of other items have turned up from the Kaipara Dairy Co-op; a Gouda box and skim milk tins – all with wonderful graphics. I am assuming the products tasted delicious (mmm, can’t go far wrong with cheese or butter), but they also had a fabulous designer! A little out of my price range, combined with shifty dealings from Trademe sellers and plenty of missing mail has kind of made me reticent in my purchasing so I settled for recreating the design myself.

The Kaipara Co-operative Dairy Company was established in 1911 amongst the rolling green pastures of Hellensville (and not to be confused with the Northern Kaipara Co-op which I understand is another, quainter building still standing much further North in the Kaipara Harbour in Whakapirau). The building at it’s current location was apparently erected in the 1950’s, all though the date “1937” painted on the edifice is a mystery according to Auckland historian Lisa Truttman, author of one of my favourite history blogs “Timespanner.”

Apparently once with a great 1950’s curved glass exterior the premises has now been completely smashed inside and out by vandals. The building is still standing to my knowledge, as testified by the many online photos of the grafittied ruins – but perhaps only just; I believe it was on the auction block recently, failed to sell and the owners ordered by local council to demolish the buildings due to “danger” by end March 2011.

It was very a successful company during its heyday and one of the more innovative dairy enterprises of it’s time – during the seventies the company ventured into the manufacture of Margarine – the first New Zealand company to do so – building an edible oils factory which is adjacent to the building and producing the “River Valley” brand.


The factory shut in the late 1980s with the general decline in farming, as well as general economic downturn resulting from “Black Monday”. In 1987, The buildings were sold to Martec Industries who attempted to run a fruit juicing operation there and failed twice. Finally the company was put into liquidation around 1989 and the machinery within the buildings stripped out and sold. The River Valley brand went to Meadow Lea Foods Ltd.

AnchorMart Ltd was formed from the retail divisions of NZCDC and the Kaipara Dairy Cooperative. Over the next decade a series of many mergers and acquisitions took place, until the company eventually became what is known now as, you guessed it – Fonterra, or – what I have come to think of as “the big creamy dragon, eater of all brands and abandoner of neat logos”.

Photo of the old Co-op courtesy and © of Lisa Truttman http://timespanner.blogspot.com/2008/11/helensville-ruins.html



Addendum, early Aug 2013: Finally this week not one, but two ads turned up at the same time showing that Cloverdale was in production from the mid-late 1950s. .

The Weekly News Feb 29 1956 -  Cloverdale Ice Cream Mix - Kaipara Co-op Dairy EDIT sml

The Weekly News, Feb 29 1956.


Recipe Book and Household Guide - Women's division Federated Famers NZ (Inc) - Kaipara Co-op Dairy -  Cloverdale Ice Cream Mix sml

From the Recipe Book and Household Guide by Women’s division Federated Farmers NZ (Inc)., exact publishing date unknown but appears to be late 1950s-early 1960s. 




All content of Longwhitekid copyright Darian Zam © 2013. All rights reserved.

  1. Sad part is in all of this is that no history has been done for the old Dairy Company. The worst part is now condemned and will be demolished in due course. I’m now researching the old Dairy Company to try and get at least some kind of decent background to it. Lisa is a good friend of mine. I lived in Helensville for over 19 years and still remember when the Dairy Company closed down. It killed the town with it. Where the Mitre 10 store now stands used to be the Transport arm of the Dairy Company. One of the brands KDC produced was ‘River Valley Margarine” at what is now the old Edible Oils Factory. Great post thanks for remembering the old factory

  2. I am glad you are doing something now. Maybe you’ll be able to find some people who remember working there. Isn’t it amazing how these things that were so big just slip away. I live in a town like that. When the mine shut after 100 years, the community started to fade away. It has happened throughout history with many communities that were constructed around, and dependant on, an industry as you’d be aware.

  3. Hi There – just come across this great site. For your information I am pretty sure the Cloverdale Dairy Fresh Ice Cream mix illustration was created by my father, K..S Clark [ Nobby Clark ] Two of Dads portfolios are held at the Auckland Central Library special collections if you want to check out more of his work.

  4. Thanks, I realise I am familiar with his work, my grandparents were big fans of any cartoon and illustration, and had his books. I would look to writing an article on his career.

  5. I’ve just seen one of his cartoons for Betty Crocker advertising


    and there’s no doubt he designed Gaston the chef for Kaipara. It’s totally his style.


    My remake is not entirely accurate but pretty close.

  6. Sorry, Pierre Auguste was the chef character’s name. Not Gaston.

  7. […] The Creamy Dragon Strikes Again […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: