Wow! 160 years.

160 years later we have moved on a long way from tinsmithing! But Farra are proud to still be in the hands of the original families, and proud that we remain at the forefront of the engineering industry in New Zealand specialising in Access Machines, Contract Manufacturing and Maintenance, Repairs and Overhaul.


A New Zealand first, Farra earn EN 15085 certification.

Team Farra is the first New Zealand Company certified to EN 15085 Railway applications—welding of railway vehicles and components. We are one of only 15 EN 15085 certified companies in Australia.



The biggest linkage BMUs in the Southern Hemisphere.

Our biggest access machine project yet. Access consultants tell us this may well be the largest in the world! These high-rise building house two disappearing Building Maintenance Units. The first tower is home to a 31m triple slewing and double telescoping BMU, an additional 37.5m triple telescoping, with 14m folding linkage and a 6.3 tonne transformer crane. The second tower is a 30m double telescoping, luffing, and traversing BMU.


Welding, Leadership and Manufacturing Excellence Awards. 

Farra was recognised by HERA at our engineering industry body awards for Fab 4.0 welding tech. Quality work and improving supporting processes and systems have been a strong focus. Investing in technology and training to maintain our position as a leader in capability and skills. Mike Ryan our GM of Operations was the winner of the Leading Metalhead Award 'Next Gen Leadership' Award. Recognised by the judges for the number and range of projects where he was able to achieve the seemingly impossible for a range of clients. Winning Excellence in Manufacturing at the Grand South Business Awards and being a finalist for Workplace Injury Prevention was the icing on the cake.


Excellence in Exporting Award.

What a comeback it's been post covid lockdown. With more work than we could point a stick at it was easy to demonstrate the progress we had made from being finalists 2 years prior. Sharpening our focus on our strategy, quality and three key areas of expertise, being clever around recruitment and continuing to invest in equipment, our people and their incredible tenacity to deliver for our customers has really paid off paving the way for exciting next steps.


A new laser and automated materials tower.

Ramping up to meet the needs of our Contract Manufacturing and Sheetmetal clients resulted in a substantial investment in a new 10kW Phoenix 4020 Fibre Laser Cutting machine with advanced automation options, cutting up to 30mm thick stainless and mild steel.


Covid Pandemic... Lockdown.

As the world shut down, essential services kept on running. That included a few of Farra's operations while the rest of us stayed at home to keep the nation safe. In our workshop essential refurbishment continued, machining parts for power stations and even a stainless steel benchtop install for a funeral home. We introduced a side hustle for kitchen helper steps. 


The biggest floor borer in the southern hemisphere.

We had purchased this floor borer and was in the process of installation with help from the PGF Provincial Growth Fund when the Lockdown happened. This slowed us down but didn't stop us, the install was completed mid 2020. The Floor Borer is essential for the huge machining work we do for power stations and large scale projects. It's not uncommon to see a 32 tonne MIV rotor on this beast. This piece of machinery weighs 56 tonnes (which is approximately 10 elephants), and it is the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. 


A massive chimney stack.

When we were approached by RCR to manufacture of 28-metre-tall and 4 and a half metre wide cylindrical chimney stack for Mataura Valley Milk we said 'Sure, why not! We love a challenge'. Farra is one of the few companies in the country that have the manpower and the machinery for a project like this. Our 500-tonne hydraulic brake press and a hydraulic plate roller that can roll 50mm thick carbon steel got a workout. This chimney is nothing short of impressive!



Protecting power stations.

The award-winning Tekapo Intake Gate Project was undertaken to protect one of the power stations from alpine fault earthquake risks. The 50-tonne gate is 22m deep and is designed to stop inflows in a serious emergency. Farra manufactured the gate and contributed to overcoming several unique engineering challenges, including how to integrate modern gate technology into infrastructure and tunnels originally designed and built in the 1940s. This was an important project in showcasing our expertise in complex problem-solving, material behaviour and specialist weld procedures. 


The acquisition of Architectural Engineering NZ.

Looking to enhance Farra's Architectural metalwork capabilities, Farra took the opportunity to combine Architectural Engineering NZ (AE) into the Farra Family.


A change at the helm.

John Whitaker CEO of Farra, 2003-2018 retires after 21 amazing years of steering the Farra ship handing the wheel over to young blood, Gareth Evans. John joins the board and maintains his Farra connection. How could you not when you have navigated through such colourful times.  2018 also saw the combination of the Farra Divisions into One Farra, streamlining our systems and creating our specialised areas of operation; Light Engineering, Heavy Engineering, and Design Innovation.


The acquisition of Shape New Zealand.

Farra wanted to expand their light engineering business and took the opportunity to buy a Christchurch-based manufacturer called Shape NZ. Shape opened up new market segments in Australia as well as added expertise in production manufacturing. Having branches in Christchurch and Dunedin gave Farra the dominant position within the Sheetmetal industry in the South Island.


A multi-pallet machining centre.

Future capacities and machining demands see Farra Machining invest $1.3 million in a DMG Mori NHX8000 multi-pallet horizontal machining centre. It can work around the clock and machine items weighing grams to 3 tons and up to 1.4 cubic metres in size. It features eight pallets, and moveable work benches with incredible speed and agility.




The new Emerson's Brewery.

The growth of the NZ wineries, distilleries and craft beer has been quite the phenomenon. During this pivotal time Farra was elbow-deep in setting up, manufacturing and connecting tanks, pipework and stainless work for these Otago businesses to brew their products. None are more iconic than Richard Emerson's, Emerson Brewery. In 2000 Farra was heavily involved in the setup and servicing of the Brewery at Wickcliffe Street and in their 2016 move to their beautiful Anzac Ave location under Lion Nathan. 


The BIG 150!

In 2013 Farra Engineering celebrated 150 years of continuous operation. To mark the occasion they commissioned a book "Forged by Farra" chronicling the colourful history of the company.

Farra 150th


The foundry is sold to the Auzzies.

In 2009 Farra decided to exit from our casting business, selling it to an Australian business that continued operating from that site, allowing us to focus on finishing and value-added processes.


Innovating the kiwi way to reach global markets.

A lack of government funding to develop the Australian market was proving to be a real constraint for Farra. A new venture of engineering companies focused on the Australian market was formed in 1996. Made up of Farra, a Christchurch electrical engineering firm and four North Island members, the venture was known as JV96. Farra bought it’s focus back to the design of BMUs, designing and manufacturing for the Hong Kong Market.


Recession to big Defence casting contract.

The recession of the local economy in 1992 was a difficult time for Farra Engineering, taking on any work they could find, even the smallest of jobs. However, things turned around for the company that year when they were awarded an $800,000 subcontract for casting major componentry for the ten Anzac frigates’ marine gearboxes. This was the largest single steel casting undertaken by the firm, the first Anzac work won by Farra, and the first awarded to an Otago company.

Anzac Frigate


From cranage to access machines for tall buildings. 

By 1989, Farra Engineering had established their new product, building maintenance units (BMUs), providing external access to high rise buildings. After installing their first BMU on Dunedin’s Westpac building, Farra Engineering built and designed two 5m by 5m BMUs for external maintenance of Auckland’s National Bank Centre. Worth around $500,000 each, these specially made units had onboard computers and could carry up to 300 kg each.

Auckland National Bank Building Maintenance Unit BMU


Heavyweight lifters in the 'Think Big' power scheme.

Farra Engineering built two huge electronic overhead cranes in 1984 for the Clyde dam powerhouse. The two cranes could be combined by a 20-tonne beam to give a total lifting capacity of 300 tonnes.

Goliath Crane


The biggest NZ crane to date.

In September of 1982 Farra Engineering completed a 160-tonne lifting capacity crane for the Ohau C power station, the largest crane of its type to be designed and built in New Zealand.

160 tonne crane

1960s & 1970s

First large cranes built for Pacific Steel.

Farra Engineering enjoyed great success in the 1960’s and 1970’s, growing to employ around 240 people. The company supplied warehouse and industrial overhead cranes, with the first large cranes built for Pacific Steel in Auckland.


A big move.

World War 1 was a worrying time with a lack of raw materials, labour shortage, and an inability to replace worn-out machinery. After the war, conditions improved. Farra Bros moved to their new, 2238 square metre purpose-built premises on Cresswell Street in 1923. Farra focused on industry making vacuum dust removal plants for woodworking machines, polishing machines and boot factories. We worked sheetmetal for ducting and motor cars, and were galvanisers and japanners making steel trunks, simplexa skylights and galvanised ware. We rode out the depression from 1929 to 1932 and WW11 finished in 1945.


Dunedin Engineering & Steel Company.

The Dunedin Engineering and Steel Company dates back to 1865 when Robert Spiers Sparrow, a boilermaker from Scotland, set up business in Dunedin. Sparrow built ships, railway wagons, boilers and all manner of factory and mining machinery. By 1874 his firm had grown to be one of the city’s major engineering operations with over 80 workers employed by the late 1880s, responsible for the fabrication of the Wingatui railway viaduct. A steel foundry began operation in 1898, with a high demand for speciality steel casting work by the company. The Dunedin Engineering and Steel Company were the builders behind the SS ‘Tawera’ launched in March 1899 and carried tourists for Sutherland Falls and Milford Sound. The largest boiler yet made in New Zealand was constructed by The Dunedin Engineering and Steel Company in 1906 for the Otago Harbour Board’s tug ‘Koputai’. In the late 1950’s and 60’s the company were responsible for the manufacturing of the steel prefermenters for Speights, as well as the 180’ high acid plant chimney, elevators, vessels and ductwork for Dominion Fertiliser at Ravensbourne. The company became part of Farra Engineering in 1969 and is the origin of Farra’s casting division.


The legacy begins.

Joseph and Janet Farra arrived in Dunedin from Melbourne with their two sons in 1862. Growth in Dunedin had rapidly increased following the discovery of Gold in the Tuapeka River near Lawrence in 1861. Joseph saw the demand for housing and household goods and quickly responded by setting up as a tinsmith, japanner, and spouting and colonial oven manufacturer in early 1863. A workshop and showroom was opened at 25 Stafford Street in 1882, followed by a rebuild and expansion in 1890. Joseph and Janet's sons, Thomas, James and youngest son Charles, took over the business and it was renamed Farra Bros. Joseph Farra died in 1907 aged 78, his sons all died in their 50’s, and former Farra foreman, James Wheeler, took over the business in 1917.