Story: Northland region
Page 10 – Industries
Northland’s economic minerals include aluminium, antimony, copper, iron, manganese and mercury. All were once mined, as were coal, gum and silica sand, but no longer.
Mining now focuses on non-metals or industrial minerals – clays, limestone and road metal. Ceramic clay is mined at Matauri Bay. Limestone is recovered for agricultural purposes and cement manufacturing (Portland quarry and cement works south of Whāngārei is the country’s largest). Good-quality road metal is available over most of Northland.
Northland’s production of industrial minerals began in pre-European days when Māori quarried obsidian from the Mokohinau Islands. This volcanic glass was used to make tools, especially cutting implements.
Most manufacturing is based in or around Whāngārei, Kaitāia, Kaikohe and Dargaville. Northland’s exports are handled at the neighbouring ports of Whāngārei and Marsden Point. Major industries include milk processing, meat processing, cement and fertiliser works, wood processing and clothing manufacture. Boat-building and ship repair occurs at Whāngārei, but also on the Kaipara Harbour.
New Zealand’s only oil refinery, built in the 1960s, is at Marsden Point. By 2003 Marsden Point Oil Refinery produced 70% of New Zealand’s petrol and 90% of its diesel.
A pipeline extends from the oil refinery to a terminal at Wiri in South Auckland. For most of its 170-kilometre length it shares a trench with a natural-gas pipeline running from Westfield to Whāngārei.
The region’s coastal waters support a substantial commercial fishery, based on finned fish such as snapper, flounder and mullet. There are also crayfish, scallop, cockle, pipi and tuatua fisheries. Marine farming, a profitable resource from earliest years, by 1999 produced nearly half the country’s exports of Pacific oysters, and three-quarters of its mussel spat.
In the 1920s Russell was already a holiday resort and deep-sea fishing mecca. As roading improved, the Bay of Islands became the focus of tourism. By the last decades of the 20th century the region’s mix of historic, cultural and natural attractions, and its benign climate, guaranteed a booming tourism industry.
In 2003 there were 3.8 million visitors to Northland, and the proportion of international visitors is expected to increase markedly by 2010. Aggressive promotion by the regional tourist organisation, Destination Northland, includes a distinctive branding. The Twin Coast Development Project encourages travel on the west and east coasts, and aims to get better distribution of tourism and its income throughout the region.