The company was first founded in Napier in 1866 as 'Hawke’s Bay Foundry' - being primarily a blacksmiths shop doing local work for the farming, fishing and shipping industries.
In 1886 James J. Niven purchased the company with his partner Mr Galloway, both being Marine Engineers. Together they rapidly expanded the blacksmiths workshopand relocated to its prominent position at the Port of Napier. This company was the first to bring electricity to Hawke’s Bay.
By 1900 'Jas J Niven' was a major factory with foundry, machine shop, boiler shop and merchandising. “Nivens” expanded to having workshops in various centers including Auckland, Wellington, Gisborne, Palmerston North, and Christchurch.
In the early 1900s, the business was purchased by the Nelson family of Hawke’s Bay who had established beef and sheep slaughterhouses at Tomoana near Hastings and with this began the long association of Nivens with the NZ Meat Industry.
In 1976 the merger of MacEwans Machinery and Napier Machinery and Installation took place, forming what is now known as Napier Engineering and Contracting Ltd.
With this kind of spirit behind it, Napier Engineering has continued on a strong path of growth, having been involved in numerous big development projects within Hawke’s Bay, across New Zealand and indeed around the world.