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Petone's First 100 Years (1940)


Cleansing New Zealand.

Back in 1913, the late Viscount Leverhulme made one of his quick, exact judgments of future development, and bought a site for a factory at Petone. The 1914–18 War prevented work being commenced until 1919, yet even then there was little, if any, indication of the transformations that were to make the Hutt Valley a centre of industrial activity, unparalleled elsewhere in New Zealand.
One of the most important characteristics of the neighbourhood influencing the decision to purchase the present land was the ample supply of good quality artesian water procurable by the simple process of boring. Other sites available would have meant purchasing water from the local authorities.
It is now more than twenty years since Sunlight Works first became a land-mark to Petone residents. Since then, many changes have taken place in the factory of Lever Brothers, and in the surrounding district. Both have grown steadily in importance, and in the case of the Lever factory, additions and improvements have been made continuously to cope with the ever- increasing demand for the world-famous products manufactured there. Production is now, of course, very many times greater than when the factory first commenced.
Long before the New Zealand factory was in production Sunlight Soap and the other products of Lever Brothers were on the New Zealand market, being shipped in the first place from Port Sunlight, England, and later from Sydney. Now the factory is manufacturing a full range of soaps and soap products, including Sunlight, Lifebuoy, Rinso, Lux and Lux Toilet Soap. One of the newest additions to the factory has been a soap-powder building fitted with the latest machinery to keep up with the ever increasing demand.
Amenities for the comfort of the staff have been provided and include the Social and Dining Hall, where last year the staff were briefly addressed by the late Prime Minister, the Right Honourable M. J. Savage, who, accompanied by the Minister of Industries and Commerce, had just completed a tour of inspection of the works. The modern methods of manufacture employed at the works and the well-planned layout of the factory were praised by members of the party.
This flourishing industry has a fine record of service to the public and of regard for the wellbeing of its employees.
A strong tradition of loyalty exists between company and workers, and of pride in the link with a business whose products go into the homes of the world.
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The Factory and Offices, Lever Bros. (New Zealand) Limited, Petone.

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