The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 62
New Zealand Hemp
New Zealand Hemp.
New Zealand Hemp is the manufactured product of New Zealand flax, or Phormium Tenax, as it is locally called, and is a valuable fibrous plant indigenous to the colony. The decennial table shows that the export has grown to large dimensions. The flax plant grows freely and re-grows quickly after the leaf is cut. The fibre is largely used both in this country and in the United States for the making of rope binder twine and for other purposes. The best quality is almost equal to Manila and superior to Sisal. The low prices ruling for Manila and Sisal have prevented the industry making the rapid growth that was looked for, but with the introduction of improved machinery, enabling the fibre to be prepared at a reduced cost, or should the supply of Manila fall off, the export would assume large dimensions. In the early days flax prepared by the Maoris in a special manner, involving much labour, had a very large commercial value, but not sufficient to pay for the labour. This shows, however, that the fibre can be worked up to a great pitch of perfection.
There are now 177 mills in the colony, and during the year 1891, the exports were valued at £281,514.