Heritage flax mill opens its doors

Howard Robertson holding a hank of processed flax fibre hemp with fellow volunteer Peter Templeton.
Supplied

Howard Robertson holding a hank of processed flax fibre hemp with fellow volunteer Peter Templeton.

New Zealand's oldest working flax mill is opening its doors to the public on the weekend.

The Templeton Flax Mill was established in Southland in 1911, but was forced to close its doors in 1972 because of the introduction of cheaper materials from overseas into the New Zealand market. 

The mill, off the Invercargill-Riverton Highway, was reopened as a working mill and museum in 2004 by Bill English and has been suppling materials throughout New Zealand ever since.

An archived photo of the Templeton Flax Mill  and its original owners
Supplied

An archived photo of the Templeton Flax Mill and its original owners

Marketing and sales manager Janice Templeton said the mill was an important part Southland's heritage. 

Their flax had been here, there and just about everywhere, she said. 

Large bundles were sent to the producers of The Hobbit to be used in props. 

"We sent it to them in beautiful condition and they made it into tatty looking rope."

It was the oldest mill still working in its original building, Templeton said. 

"The machinery is more than 100 years old and has to be handled with great care."

People who came along to the open day would learn the processes used to prepare flax for sale and would see how the machinery worked.

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Demonstrations would run every 45 minutes between 1pm and 3.15pm on Sunday, March 26.

The Templeton Flax Mill Open Day is part of celebrations for Heritage Month and the Harvest Festival. 

 

 - Stuff

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