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Māori Redundancy

Whakatu Freezing Works

25 years since the closure of Whakatu

On Saturday 8 October 2011 a gathering was held to celebrate 25 years since the closure of Whakatu Freezing Works (abattoir). During the celebration the Whakatu ex-workers who have passed on were remembered. Their names were read out and poppies were placed on the stone that is part of the commemoration plaque for the Works. Ex-workers and their whānau (families) then passed the role of organising future anniversary commemorations to the local, Whakatu community.

Researching the impact of the closure on workers' health and wellness

Te Rōpū Rangahau Hauora a Eru Pomare, the Māori Health Research Centre at the University of Otago Wellington, has been working with Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated over the past 17 years to carry out research on the health effects of the closure of Whakatu and Tomoana Freezing Works. Bridget Robson, Director of the Centre, and Fiona Cram were invited to the 25th anniversary and spoke briefly about the research, 'Mauri Tu Mauri Ora, Mauri Noho, Mauri Mate' (named from a whakataukī given by kaumatua Tama Tomoana to signify the importance of the research). We also remembered our friend, relation and colleague, Vera Keefe-Ormsby - herself an ex-Whakatu worker - who passed away in 2005.

The publications from this research include:

Cram, F., Keefe, V., Ormsby, C., Ormsby, W. & Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Inc. (1997). Memorywork and Māori Health Research: Discussion of a Qualitative Method. He Pukenga Kōrero, 3, 37-45.

Keefe, V., Ormsby C., Robson, B., Reid, P., Cram, F. & Purdie, G. (1999). Kaupapa Māori meets retrospective cohort. He Pukenga Kōrero, 5, 12-17.

Keefe, V., Reid, P., Ormsby, C., Robson, B., Purdie, G., Baxter, J. & Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated (2002). Serious health events following involuntary job loss in New Zealand meat processing workers. International Journal of Epidemiology, 31, 1155-1161.

Keefe-Ormsby, V. (2008). Tihei Mauri Ora: The human stories of Whakatu. A qualitative study of involuntary job loss following the closure of the Whakatu Freezing Works. Master of Public Health Thesis, University of Otago.

Ormsby, W.T. & V. Keefe-Ormsby (1996) Health effects of unemployment: Closure of the Hawke’s Bay Farmers Meat Company – Whakatu feasibility study. Wellington: Wellington School of Medicine, Te Rōpū Rangahau Hauora A Eru Pōmare.

Te Rōpū Rangahau Hauora a Eru Pōmare (2000). Mauri Tu: The Tomoana Resource Centre – An intervention following job lossSocial Policy Journal of New Zealand, 15, 55-68.

Tihei Mauri Ora: The human stories of Whakatu

Copies of Vera Keefe-Ormsby's masters thesis were distributed at the gathering. Her thesis records the stories workers told about working at Whakatu, the closure, and what life was like afterwards.

Vera's thesis is available from the University of Otago website.