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Historical Records of New Zealand

New Zealand Hemp

New Zealand Hemp.

This agreement made and fully agreed upon this 25th day of March 1813 by and between James Birnie of Sydney in His Majesty’s territory of New South Wales merchant of the one page 469 part and Robert Williams of Sydney aforesaid rope maker of the other part, witnesseth that whereas the said Robert Williams having discovered the method of cleaning, preparing, or manufacturing the flax plant growing on the islands of New Zealand doth hereby agree to and with the said James Birnie that he will engage himself to proceed in a vessel provided by the said James Birnie to such part of the said islands as may be deemed most advantageous for procuring the said plant there to erect his machinery for the purpose of cleaning or preparing it for a foreign market and that he will use his utmost skill and ability in instructing such persons as may be sent down by the said James Birnie in cleaning, preparing, and manufacturing the said article of flax and that he will discover and disclose to the said James Birnie and the persons so sent all the secrets or misteries thereof and also the machinery whereby it is to be so dressed or prepared the expences of which machinery in its construction is to be at the own proper cost and expence of the said James Birnie, and the said James Birnie hereby agrees to and with the said Robert Williams to find him in every necessary comfort of a passage with sufficient provisions and necessaries during the voyage to and from New Zealand. In consideration of the service and discovery of the secret or method aforesaid the said James Birnie binds and obliges himself to pay or cause to be paid to the said Robert Williams one full twentieth part of whatever flax may be brought up from New Zealand the voyage which he proceeds on immediately on its being landed at Sydney and he also binds himself and his assigns that he will after that period deliver to the said Robert Williams so long as he may find it beneficial to carry on the said speculation for flax to New Zealand whatever quantity of flax he the said R. W. may want for the supply of his rope walk he paying for the same at such reasonable rate as may be put upon it from time to time by two indifferent merchants resident in the Town of Sydney aforesaid.

[On the same sheet and in the rope-maker’s hand is written below “Proposals not agreed to by me.—(Signed) R. Williams.“]