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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Otago & Southland Provincial Districts]

The Mataura Paper Mills

The Mataura Paper Mills (T. S. Culling and Co., proprietors), Mataura. These mills are situated at the falls, on the Mataura river, about ten miles south of Gore, and about thirty miles from Invercargill, on the main line of railway. The mills were erected in 1875 by an Invercargill syndicate, which received from the Government a freehold of the property on both sides of the river at the falls, with all water rights, so as to be able to utilise the power running to waste. Unfortunately for the original proprietors, they were unable to make the industry a profitable one, and in 1884, the property was bought by the partners in the firm of Coulls, Culling and Co., Dunedin, and Mr T. S. Culling, senior partner in the firm of R. Wilson and Co., Dunedin. In 1893, an entirely new plant displaced the old machinery, and two turbines, developing about 300 horsepower, were erected to utilise the water power. When the late Mr Thomas Culling was manager of the mill, he bought out four of the partners' interests, and at his death bequeathed his share to his son, Mr T. S. Culling, who was then, for some time, with Mr J. L. Gregory, owner of the industry. Towards the end of 1904, the firm was changed to a Limited Liability Company, in which Mr Culling still (1905) has an interest. At the mills the steady rush of water over the falls is utilised for driving two turbines, of 50 horse-power and 250 horse-power, respectively, and this is supplemented by steam for drying and boiling purposes. The material used for paper-making consists of bags, rope, flax, rags, old paper, books, telegraph forms, imported jute and wood pulp, besides natural clays for colouring purposes. Sorting, picking and classing are the preliminary processes in dealing with the raw material, which is then chopped up into small pieces and boiled with caustic soda in rotary boilers. On passing into the beating engines, it becomes pulp, receives the required colour, and is then ready for the paper-making machine, which is a marvel of inventive skill, and, like all the rest of the plant, is automatic in action. The pulp runs into the machine as a liquid, and finally emerges from the drying cylinders as a huge roll of paper ready for cutting, folding and packing for the market. There are also three modern bag-making machines, and two machines for printing the bags; and about fifty-two persons find regular employment. The product of the mills is well known to business men; every variety of high class wrapping paper is made, and the paper-bag manufacturing department is supplied with the most modern machinery. At the various exhibitions that have been held in the large towns of the colony many first prizes have been awarded to the goods manufactured at the Mataura Paper Mills. The head office of the mills is at Crawford Street, Dunedin; and Mr T. S. Culling is further referred to at page 405 of this volume, as a member of the St. Kilda Borough Council.