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Historical Records of New Zealand

[Enclosure No. 2.]

[Enclosure No. 2.]

Woolwich Royal Rope Yard, 30th July, 1823.


In answer to the letter which you have done me the honor to address to me respecting New Zealand flax, I beg leave to say page 607 to you that what I have seen of it has been fit for use. either as cordage, or for lines, and also for twine.

About two years ago some flax of the kind in question was sent to this department to be made into rope for trial. A trial was made accordingly, and in conjunction with the other officers of the Dock-yard, we reported thus:-

“The New Zealand flax spins well into yarn, it takes the tar (about 1/6 in.), and retains it well. The New Zealand and the Russian hemp each take about 1/6th of tar and retain it very similarly, both in the yarn and in the rope. The quality of this flax is such that it will beat for fine twine also.

Thomas Brown,}Dock-yard.

Edward Pownoll,}Dock-yard.

John Peake,}Rope-yard.

Josp. Parsons,}Rope-yard.“

The above is an extract from the official letter written to the Navy Board on trials of other ropes also, at that time.

The following is a copy of a private memorandum I made at the time for the purpose of referring to in case there should at any future period arise a question on the flax of New Zealand growth, and the hemps mentioned in the said report:-

“On the whole view of the Manilla and Rajapoor hemps, and flax from New Zealand, it is quite safe to consider the strength of these ropes in the untarred state as greater than in ropes made from Russian hemp. But as to tarring the Manilla a doubt might arise as to durability. The portion of tar that remained, or was retained, from its not readily imbibing it, not being so great as in ropes made from Russian hemp; and hence its preservation, in that respect, must be left for time to decide on. The New Zealand flax, however, as taking the tar equally well with the Russian hemp, may be confided in for similar durability. The Rajapoor 3 tarred was also stronger than the Russian tarred.“

Now, sir, these observations were made eighteen months ago, and I have since had no reason to alter them. Your letter on the subject has recalled them to my mind, and now seeing the small lines which have been made from the parcel of flax you gave me for that purpose I still hold as good my former opinion—that the New Zealand flax is fit for all cordage. The lines now made (to-day) will, I so imagine, speak very favorably for the quality of the flax.

I have, &c.,

John Peake.