The History of the Phormium Flax Industry in Canterbury

Vaughan Wood[1]

The production of phormium flax fibre, if we include hand dressing of flax by Maori, was one of New Zealand’s foundation export industries. The record of New Zealand flax exports goes back to at least 1810,[2] while we can extend European interest in commodifying flax back to observations made by James Cook in 1770, and at a more practical level, to 1793 and the premeditated abduction of the young men Tuki Tuhua and Ngahuruhuru to Norfolk Island on the Daedulus, with a view to discerning the secrets of flax working.[3] For centuries before this, of course, Maori women had been producing flax fibre for use both as a textile and as a construction material.[4]

The history of Canterbury’s commercial flax industry has nevertheless been a largely Pakeha one, as the ongoing participation of Ngai Tahu on a large scale was effectively precluded after 1848 by their being dispossessed of almost all of their Canterbury lands by the Kemp’s Deed purchase. In terms of overall output and longstanding presence in the landscape, the industry in Canterbury was also much less significant at a national level than that of the flax producing regions of the Manawatu and later Southland. The predominance of the latter regions is reflected not just in the historical literature on the industry, but also in the fact that both have their very own flax dressing museum.[5] In the circumstances, it is easy to overlook the fact that for a brief period in the 1870s, Christchurch was New Zealand’s most active centre of flax fibre production.

Within Canterbury, the export trade in flax supplied by Maori began in the late 1820s. Visits had been made by the Sydney vessel Elizabeth by 1829, while another Sydney vessel, the Vittoria, visited Canterbury to trade in flax in 1831.[6] At the time, there had been interest in the United Kingdom in the use of flax for making rope for naval vessels, and so this was a cause of some excitement among Sydney’s merchant community. However, this British interest faded away in the early 1830s, and with the Maori economy also being ravaged by internal conflict (in which the Elizabeth was a not insignificant accessory in the Canterbury context),[7] imports of New Zealand flax into Sydney declined after 1832.[8] In keeping with this broader trend, Canterbury’s flax resource seems to have lost its allure for the Sydney merchants’ after the Vittoria’s visit.

It was not until 1852, in the second year of the Canterbury Association settlement,that Pakeha again took an interest in the region’s flax. In March of that year, the Lyttelton Times reported that Messrs Beechey and Polhill had left a sample of flax in their office, free of gum and green vegetable matter, which they reckoned three men could prepare a ton of per day.[9] Two weeks later, a correspondent observed that it would take three men a whole day just to cut the five tons of flax leaf needed to make a ton of dressed fibre, let alone start processing it.[10] Perhaps unsurprisingly Beechey and Polhill never attempted to make good on their assertion. Instead, it was the partnership of Blakiston and Young that established Canterbury’s first flax mill on the Cam River at Kaiapoi in 1855. The mill relied on percussion to strip out the flax fibre, but little else is known about the operation, which had ceased by 1857.[11]

No further attempts to establish flax mills in Canterbury were made until the mid-1860s. In the meantime, North Island flaxmillers and merchants had been busy trying to improve on flax dressing machinery, as the squeeze was put on the supply of Maori grown flax by the New Zealand Wars. Between 1861 and 1871, some 28 patents in relation to flax processing were issued, the most significant, in terms of later events, being that granted to Ninnis and Purchas. Like Blakiston and Young, they had adopted percussion, rather than washing in alkaline solutions, to free the flax leaves of gum and mucilage.[12] The Canterbury mercantile community had initially taken only a passive interest in these industry developments, which is perhaps understandable due to the close proximity of the Otago and West Canterbury gold rushes. In late 1863, however, the firm of Cameron, Donaldson, and Cameron, made up of ex-Wellington millers, announced plans to export gumless flax fibre to the United Kingdom for use in manufacturing paper.[13] Their Papanui Flax Mill on Christchurch’s Harewood Road was able to start production in 1864, and Cameron’s processed fibre prompted positive comment at the Intercolonial exhibition in Dunedin in 1865.[14] The business nevertheless seems to have folded after an unsuccessful marketing demonstration of their solvent-based cleaning method at Port Chalmers in late 1865,[15] although Donaldson would re-emerge as the inspiration behind the Oamaru-based North Otago Flax Company in 1870.[16]

In spite of the apparent failure of the Papanui Flax enterprise, the industry was soon put on a firmer footing in Canterbury by James and Egerton Ninnis.  The former, whose patent was mentioned above, entered into a partnership with Frederick Jenkins and Frederic Jones, which began cutting flax at Kaiapoi in 1866, and erected the Kaiapoi Flax Works on Sidey Quay the following year. This housed Ninnis’ stripping machinery, powered by a steam engine, in a 28m long shed.[17] A rope-walk was later added by Jenkins and Jones, but in early 1874 the Canterbury Spinning and Weaving Company, which had taken oven the operation, decided wool was a better bet and so the flax mill was transformed into the Kaiapoi Woollen Mills.[18]  James Ninnis, meanwhile, had quickly left the partnership,[19] and by the end of 1867 Egerton Ninnis had established the equally substantial Halswell Flax Mill alongside the Halswell River upstream from Tai Tapu. Here the stone machine hall contained no less than six Ninnis stripping machines, again steam-powered, with the factory having around 25 employees.[20]

Over the next five years, a host of new flax mills would be established. Typhoons in the Philippines during 1867 had wreaked havoc with the manila supply for the time being, so there was no shortage of demand from rope-makers for the New Zealand alternative.[21] In North Canterbury alone, there were seventeen new flax mills added between 1869 and 1872 (seven at Oxford, three at Rangiora, two at Leithfield, two between Flaxton and Ohoka, and one each at Waikuku, Woodend, and Saltwater Creek).[22] Closer to Christchurch, there were several single flax stripping machines operating in the Opawa-Linwood area, another at St Albans, in addition to mills at Styx Mill and on the Heathcote at St Martins (although the latter had to be removed in 1870 because a dam for the mill’s waterwheel was posing flooding problems for a neighbouring house).[23] Further south, there were up to five new mills distributed around the streams and rivers running into Lake Ellesmere, [24] together with one at Charteris Bay in Lyttelton Harbour,[25] while in South Canterbury there were another three at Orari, Kakahu, and Milford respectively.[26]  Of all these new flaxmills, those that seem to have been the most significant were the Selwyn Flax Company mill at Irwell, which had six-stripping machines, the Ohoka Stream flaxmill near Kaiapoi, in which waterpower drove three stripping machines, Benn and Walker’s two steam powered mills at Leithfield, which had six-stripping machines between them, and Richardson and De Bourbel’s Ashley Gorge mill, which had eight stripping machines.[27] Altogether, some 24 flax mills with 50 machines were recorded in Canterbury by the 1870 census (around one-sixth of the national total), while, as Table 1 shows, the province was of even greater significance when it came to output; the 1531 tons of flax dressed in Canterbury represented one-third of the national total, and was not much less than the output of the next two most productive provinces (Auckland and Otago) put together.[28]

This plethora of new flax mills in the early 1870s was accompanied by a wide range of opinion on the best methods and machines for preparing fibre for the market.  For example, in the case on the Benn and Walker mills at Leithfield, three makes of machine (Howarth’s, Anderson’s and Williams’) had been tried before Price’s had been chosen; at De Bourbel’s mill at Ashley Gorge, meanwhile, three different makes (Price’s, Fraser & Tinne’s, and Anderson’s) were being used.[29] In an endeavour to capitalise on the current buoyant position of the industry by resolving some of these questions, the Canterbury Flax Association was established by a meeting of flax mill owners in June 1870. Its object, as elucidated in an advertisement published two days after its formation, was to ‘carefully conduct a series of experiments for discovering the best methods of producing a fibre from the phormium tenax fitted for all purposes of manufacture’.[30] By acting in this way, the Canterbury flaxmillers were acting in concert with central government, which had appointed Commissioners in late 1870 to investigate, with the help of advice from agents in the United Kingdom, how to produce fibre which best met the needs of overseas markets.[31] Initially the Flax Association had sought to sponsor flaxmillers to report the results of their own individual experiments, but ultimately it decided to establish its own small flax plantation in what is now Addington, together with its own experimental mill. It also worked, together with Cornelius Thorne of London, who had succeeded in manufacturing textile fabric from phormium fibre, to promote its potential in the British market, and it also supported flaxmillers by sending samples of Canterbury-grown flax to overseas exhibitions. [32]

The good times, however, could not last. The average export price, having risen from around £15 per ton in 1869 to £25 per ton in 1872, was back down to £18 10s. per ton by 1874, which made mills barely sustainable. During the next 13 years, moreover, the average export price would never rise beyond £20 11s, and would drop as low as £14 6s.[33] The revival of the manila hemp trade played a part in these depressed prices,[34] but the rapid expansion of the New Zealand industry in the early 1870s had both glutted the market for New Zealand fibre and also lowered the overall quality of the product.[35] Naturally there was a contraction in the industry, although the market correction was prolonged by investors in loss-making mills hanging on in the hope of a revival in prices, rather than cutting their losses. In Canterbury, the number of operating flax mills (Table 1) had dropped to just two by 1877, production had similarly fallen by about 90 per cent. Some flax mills were converted for other purposes, like the Ashley Gorge flax mill which became a saw mill,[36] or the Jenkins & Jones mill at Kaiapoi, which transitioned, as described earlier, into a woollen mill. Some mills  had  always  been  dual purpose, such as Stonyer’s  flax and flour mill at Ohoka,[37]  so for them it would have been a relatively easy change to make. Others were broken up due to financial failure, such as the Selwyn Flax Works,[38] while still others were removed from production by natural attrition, among them Eckersley’s mill at Ohoka which was badly damaged in a fire.[39] As for the Canterbury Flax Association, it had wound itself down from 1874, completing the process in January 1875,[40] and so had not been around for long enough to make any significant contribution to the industry.

Table 1: The flax industry in Canterbury compared with NZ, 1870-1915
*The 1915 output figure was combined for Canterbury and Westland. Sources: “Report of the Commissioners appointed to enquire into the preparation of the Phormium fibre”, p 101; Results of a Census of the Colony of New Zealand, taken for the night of 1st of March of 1874 (Wellington, Government Printer, 1875), p 269; Results of a Census … 1st of March 1878 (1880), p 345; Results … 3rd April 1881 (1882), p 300; Results … 28th March 1886 (1887), p 342; Results … 5th April 1891 (1892), Appendix A, p xxvii; Results … 12th April 1896 (1897), Appendix A, p xxvii; Results … 31st March 1901 (1902), Appendix A, p xxxi; Results … 29th April 1906 (1907), Appendix A, p xxxi; Results of a Census of the Dominion … 2nd April 1911 (1912), Appendix E, p ciii; Results … 15 October 1916 (1918), Appendix D, p lxxix
Year Number of flax mills operating Output of dressed flax (tons)
  Canterbury NZ Canterbury NZ
1870 24 161 1531 4458
1873 11 110 653 4255
1877 2 31 165 1190
1880 4 40 346 1383
1885 4 30 256 1397
1890 16 177 2125 14412
1895 7 52 300 2999
1900 8 101 720 12035
1905 8 240 784 22128
1910 3 81 891 15130
1915 2 76 315* 7453


Renewed fears about the level of the manila supply, and the emergence of twine as another product that could be made with phormium flax fibre, pushed the London price up to as much as £40 per ton at the end of the 1880s, and thus brought about a revival of the local industry.[41] Indeed, across New Zealand as a whole, 138 flax mills were reportedly established in 1889.[42] During 1890 the 16 flax mills in Canterbury produced an unprecedented 2125 tonnes of dressed flax, but even this was not much than one-seventh of national output.[43] This revival was only short-lived though, and by 1891 mills in Canterbury were back in the position of having to either cut production or close altogether.[44]

The industry then experienced a second, more sustained boom at the end of the 1890s, brought about by the disruption to manila production caused by the Spanish-American War of 1898. The government was keen to ensure the industry made better use of this opportunity, appointing a flax grader in 1901, and making such grading compulsory via the Flax Grading and Export Act 1901, which gave overseas buyers for the first time some level of certainty that they were buying a quality product.[45] In the wake of such grading, the price of New Zealand flax fibre in London was back up to £30 to £36 per ton during the middle of the decade.[46] Across the country, the industry went on to reach its zenith, with 240 mills producing some 22,148 tons of dressed flax in 1905. In spatial terms, this resurgence between 1899 and 1907 was quite uneven though. In 1905 the output from Wellington Province, which included the Manawatu flaxmills, among which was the largest in New Zealand,[47] was 7524 tons; at the same time, however, Canterbury’s eight flaxmills only produced 784 tons, or about one-third of their 1890 figure. [48]

Leech’s mill on the Cam River in Rangiora was one of the few 1870s flax mills which had survived the depression years in the industry,[49] while among the other leading mills during the second boom period were the mills at Woodend and Westerfield (near Ashburton) owned by members of the Chinnery family, the Southbrook mill (owned first by James Seed and later by Charles Withers), and the Waikuku mill owned by J.P. Andrews.[50] As in the earlier boom, several of the smaller mills associated with the 1880s and 1890s upturns in the industry only had a fleeting existence. One such mill was William Mardon’s mill at Riccarton, established on the Avon River just above the Ilam site now occupied by the University of Canterbury; after being sued for polluting the Ilam homestead’s water supply in 1889, and having had much of the mill burnt down in 1890, Mardon went bankrupt in 1892.[51]

This second boom in the industry’s history came to an emphatic end in 1908. Unused supply from the previous year’s flax fibre production, together with bumper seasons for manila in the Philippines and sisal in Central America, and reduced demand for twine caused by poor northern hemisphere grain crops, combined to cause a £15 per ton crash in the price of New Zealand flax compared to the year before.[52] As a consequence, New Zealand had only 81 flax mills by 1910 (barely one-third of the number five years earlier), and the number in Canterbury was down to three, although it should be said that tonnage of dressed flax produced in Canterbury by these three mills was greater than that produced by the eight mills in 1905.[53] The industry in Canterbury never recovered, and by 1927 the sole stand-alone mill in operation was McDonald’s at Southbrook, although Andrews’ twine works at Waikuku (formerly the Waikuku Flax, Rope and Twine Works) also used flax in its production. The McDonald mill was then purchased by Andrews in the 1930s, but whereas the mill subsequently closed down, its Southbrook farm remained a source of flax for the twine works.[54] The latter continued to process flax through into at least until the 1960s.[55] It eventually became one of the arms of the Donaghys textile business, and was closed in 1987.[56]

Looking back on the history of dressed flax production in Canterbury, the standout feature was its transient nature. A highly volatile market driven by strong competition from foreign alternatives to flax fibre resulted in dramatic fluctuations in the size of the industry between the 1860s and 1920s. The timing of the peaks in demand for flax fibre, relative to the expansion of close settlement, was a key factor in this transience. The long recession in prices from the early 1870s to the late 1880s would have given little incentive for Canterbury landowners to wait the five years or so needed for new growth to replace what had been cut, before converting their holding into agricultural fields; consequently, the industry in Canterbury was in practice extractive, even though the plants themselves were a renewable resource.  This was in stark contrast to the situation in the Manawatu, where flax millers were still able to exploit, through lease or purchase, hundreds and even thousands of acres of natural flax-producing wetlands at the turn of the century.[57] This placed the more permanent Canterbury flaxmillers in an unenviable position, as on the one hand they were under pressure to deliver a processed product more suitable for overseas markets, which usually required investment in improved machinery, while on the other hand they would have faced competition from cheaper, and most likely inferior, fibre from ‘cut-and-run’ operators who probably had little concern for maintaining the quality of their product or security of supply in the long-term. Ultimately, the most telling limitation for the industry, although its effects may have been felt in Canterbury earlier than in other regions, was that phormium flax fibre never achieved the sort of prestige status in international markets that New Zealand’s agricultural success stories, such as kiwifruit, have been able to attain. Thus even when it became highly rationalised, as was seen in the post-1905 period in Canterbury, the industry was never likely to be more than a supplementary supplier of fibre.

[1] Vaughan Wood is a contract researcher, and is currently working on an environment history report of the Kapiti-Manawatu region for CFRT. He has previously been a research fellow in the Geography Department of the University of Canterbury.

[2] R.P. Wigglesworth. “The New Zealand Timber and Flax Trade 1769-1840” (Unpublished PhD thesis, Massey University, 1981), 26-29.

[3] E. Stokes, “Contesting Resources: Māori, Pākeha, and a tenurial revolution”. In E. Pawson & T. Brooking (Eds.), Environmental Histories of  New Zealand (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 2002), 36.

[4] See, for example, G. Hindmarsh and P. Quinn, “Flax: the enduring fibre”, New Zealand Geographic 42 (1999): 20-53.

[5] The museums in question are the Templeton Flax Mill Heritage Museum in Southland, and the Foxton Flax Stripper Museum in the Manawatu. Among the works published regarding the flax industry in the two regions are B. Ayson, Miranui – The Story of New Zealand’s Largest Flaxmill (Wellington: Southern Press, 1977); J. Pollard, A Mingled Yarn: The Seifert Family and Flaxmilling in New Zealand (Bowral NSW: Self-published, 2004); L. Esler, Flax and the Flax Industry in the South (Invercargill: Self-published, 2012); M. Trotter, Flax Mills of the South (Invercargill: Self-published, 2004).

[6] C.R. Straubel, A History of Canterbury Vol.1: to 1854 (Christchurch: Whitcombe & Tombs, 1957), 37-39.

[7] In 1830, the Elizabeth had secretly carried a Ngati Toa war party led by Te Rauparaha to Akaroa, who avenged a previous clash with Ngai Tahu by abducting and slaying the Ngai Tahu chief Te Maiharanui (the rest of his party being either killed or enslaved) and sacking the village at Takapuneke. G. Ogilvie, Banks Peninsula: Cradle of Canterbury. (Wellington:  GP Books, 1994), 155-156.

[8] C.J. Sparrow. “The growth and status of the Phormium tenax industry of New Zealand”. Economic Geography 41.4 (1965): 335; Wigglesworth. “The New Zealand Timber and Flax Trade”, 78-79 & 82-86.

[9] Lyttelton Times, 20 March, 1852: 5.

[10] Lyttelton Times, 3 April, 1852: 7.

[11] Blakiston & Young to Provincial Superintendent of Otago, 18 June, 1855. AAAC 707 D500 Box 126/c no 79, Archives New Zealand, Dunedin; Lyttelton Times, 13 May, 1857: 6; DN Hawkins, Beyond the Waimakariri: A Regional History (Christchurch: Whitcombe & Tombs, 1957), 29.

[12] Sparrow, “The growth and status of the Phormium tenax industry of New Zealand”, 338-339.

[13] R. Donaldson (letter to the Ed.), n.d., Press, 3 November, 1863: 3.

[14] “Papanui Flax Works”, Lyttelton Times, 15 November, 1864: 4; S.J. Shep, “The Paper Record: Phormium tenax and New Zealand papermaking”, BSANZ Bulletin 21.3 (1997): 159-160.

[15] “The manufacture of flax at Port Chalmers”, Otago Witness, 5 August, 1865: 5.

[16] “Oamaru Flax Company”, North Otago Times, 28 October, 1870: 3.

[17] “Kaiapoi Flax Works”, Press, 13 February, 1867: 2; E Ninnis (letter to the Ed.), Press, 20 July, 1867: 2.

[18] “The northern flax mills”. Star, 16 March, 1870: 3; “Canterbury Weaving, Spinning and Fibre Company (Limited)”, Press, 30 January, 1874: 2.

[19]  Press, 29 April, 1867: 2.

[20]  “Halswell Flax Works”, Press, 11 December, 1867: 2; “New Zealand Flax”, Star, 22 February, 1869: 3.

[21] Report by J. Knowles, 14 July 1870. “Report from the New Zealand Commissioners relative to the manufacture of New Zealand flax”. Appendices to the Journals of the House of Representatives 1870, D-14A: 2

[22] Another two were built at Ohoka in 1874. Hawkins, Beyond the Waimakariri, 146 & 310. Hawkins also counted Marshall’s rope and flax works at Cust as a new flaxmill, but Marshall grew and dressed linen flax as opposed to phormium flax (Extract from Lyttelton Times in Otago Witness, 12 March, 1881: 7).

[23] ‘New Zealand flax’, Star, 22 February, 1869: 3; Dennis Hills, The Styx Mill-Myths and Mysteries (Christchurch: Styx History Group, 2015), 31-33 & 58; Beckenham Neighbourhood Association, Beckenham: A Suburb of Christchurch, New Zealand (Christchurch: Beckenham Neighbourhood Association, 1993), 27.

[24] These included mills at Sedgemere (M. Patterson, In Sights of the Lake and Sound of the Sea (Christchurch: Self-published, 1998), 62), the Selwyn Flax Mill at Irwell (“New Zealand flax”, Star, 22 February, 1869: 3), the Burnham flax mill on the Selwyn River (Press, 26 June, 1869: 3), and the Kaituna flax works (“Magisterial”, Star, 7 July, 1870: 3). It is possible that Joseph Gardiner had by this time commenced his Halswell flax and rope works (I. McBride, The Paparua County: A Concise History (Christchurch: Canterbury Public Library, 1990), 37-38), as contemporary bankruptcy notices describe him as a ropemaker of Halswell (Press, 9 November, 1869: 3).

[25] (accessed 24 May 2016)

[26] “Flax manufacture”, Timaru Herald, 1 December, 1869: 2;  “Temuka”, Timaru Herald, 26 January, 1870: 3; “Milford boiling-down establishment”, Timaru Herald, 23 March, 1870: 6; “Milford flax mill”, Timaru Herald, 10 May 1871: 4.

[27] “New Zealand flax”, Star, 22 February, 1869: 3; “Report of the Commissioners appointed to enquire into the preparation of the Phormium fibre or New Zealand Flax. Appendices to the Journals of the House of Representatives 1871, G-4: 64.

[28] “Report of the Commissioners … into the preparation of the Phormium fibre”, 101.

[29] Ibid., 64.

[30] Press, 4 June, 1870: 3.

[31] “Report of the Commissioners … into the preparation of the Phormium fibre”, vi.

[32] “Canterbury Flax Association”, Press, 21 June, 1872: 3; “Canterbury Flax Association”, Press, 7 August, 1872: 2.

[33] “A revived industry”, Otago Witness, 21 March, 1889: 6. According to one of the Canterbury respondents to a survey of flax mills in 1890, flax dressing would not pay if the price was less than £18 f.o.b. at Lyttelton (“Manufacture and growth of phormium or flax (Report on the)”. Appendices to the Journals of the House of Representatives 1890, H-36: 6)

[34] “New Zealand hemp”, Colonist, 26 March, 1874: 3.

[35] E.H. Atkinson, “Phormium tenax. The New Zealand fibre industry: I. Historical”, New Zealand Journal of Agriculture 22.2 (1921): 84.

[36] Hawkins, Beyond the Waimakariri, 113.

[37] “Report of the Commissioners … into the preparation of the Phormium fibre”, 64; Hawkins, Beyond the Waimakariri, 146.

[38] Press, 7 December, 1871: 4.

[39] Hawkins, Beyond the Waimakariri, 146.

[40] “Canterbury Flax Association”, Star, 18 July, 1874: 3; “Canterbury Flax Association”, Star, 23 January, 1875: 2.

[41] Sparrow, “The growth and status of the Phormium tenax industry of New Zealand”, 339; “The flax industry”, Star, 26 February, 1889: 4.

[42] “Manufacture and growth of phormium or flax (Report on the)”, 2.

[43] Results of a Census of the Colony of  New Zealand, taken for the Night of the 5th April 1891 (Wellington: Government Printer, 1892), Appendix B, xxvii

[44] D.N. Hawkins, Rangiora: The Passing Years and People in a Canterbury Country Town (Rangiora: Rangiora Borough Council, 1983), 250.

[45] Atkinson, “Phormium tenax”, 85.

[46] “The fibre industry”, New Zealand Herald, 19 November, 1906: 8; “Slump in flax”, Auckland Star, 22 October, 1907: 5

[47] See Ayson, Miranui – The Story of New Zealand’s Largest Flaxmill, and Catherine Knight, Ravaged Beauty: An Environmental History of the Manawatu (Palmerston North: Dunmore  Press, 2014), 146-160.

[48] Results of a Census of the Colony of New Zealand, taken for the night of 29th April 1906 (Wellington: Government Printer, 1907), Appendix A, xxxi

[49] Cyclopedia of New Zealand: Volume 3: Canterbury and Provincial Districts (Christchurch: The Cyclopedia Company, 1903), 469.

[50] Hawkins, Rangiora, 306; Cyclopedia of New Zealand: Volume 3, 458-459, 477 & 838.

[51] “Supreme Court”, Press, 5 February, 1889: 3; “In Re William Mardon, Riccarton, Flax Dresser”, Star, 29 August, 1892: 3

[52] “Collapse of Flax Industry”, Auckland Star, 13 March, 1908: 3.

[53] Results of a Census of the Colony of New Zealand, taken for the night of 29th April 1906 (Wellington: Government Printer, 1907), Appendix A, xxxi; Results of a Census of the Dominion of New Zealand, taken for the night of 2nd April 1911 (Wellington: Government Printer, 1912), Appendix E, ciii.

[54] Sparrow, “The growth and status of the Phormium tenax industry of New Zealand”, 344; “Acclimatisation”, Press, 18 May, 1933: 3; “Industries wanted”, Ellesmere Guardian, 4 August, 1944: 2.

[55] Sparrow, “The growth and status of the Phormium tenax industry of New Zealand”, 342.

[56] Other flax mills, such as the Templeton mill at Otaitai in Southland, also supplied fibre to Donaghy’s Waikuku works. “Templeton Flax Mill Complex. Additional information”. (accessed 6 June 2016); John Wilson, “Canterbury Places – Kaiapoi district”, Te Ara: the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 15-Dec-14. (accessed 26 May 2016).

[57] See, for example, Marjorie D. Law, From Bush and Swamp: The Centenary of Shannon 1887-1987 (Palmerston North: Dunmore Press, 1987), 100-102