"We had a proud history, we were all proud of the company. Right from farmers to the workforce to directors, we were all on the same page to do the best we could."

Fourth generation West Coast dairy farmer Murray Stewart is recalling why the century-old Westland dairy cooperative, poised for sale to a Chinese mega-company, decided not to join the 2001 industry merger that created Fonterra.

He was a Federated Farmers leader at the time and says going it alone was a no-brainer for the West Coast dairying community.

Fast forward 18 years and that pride is a dusty