When Europeans came to New Zealand they set up factories to make the things they needed, such as bricks and timber for building, food, beverages and clothes. Later, there were many factories that processed meat and dairy products.
Factories were often unhealthy and dangerous places to work, and working hours were long. In the 1890s the Department of Labour was set up to inspect working conditions in factories.
Bigger and mechanised factories
In the early 20th century about 20% of all workers were employed in a factory, and factories got bigger. The introduction of electricity and more machines changed how people worked in factories.
Factories that made clothes, weapons and other equipment grew rapidly during the Second World War, and factories had trouble getting enough workers.
From the 1938 the government limited imports to protect and help local factories industries develop. After these limits were removed in the 1980s, cheaper imported goods undercut locally made goods, and many factories closed.
Many factories began to sell their products overseas, rather than just to the New Zealand market. By 1995, 25% of all goods manufactured in New Zealand were exported.