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Historical Records of New Zealand

[Enclosure No. 5.]

[Enclosure No. 5.]

London, 14th November, 1823


In reply to your letter of the 11th instant, requiring my opinion of the Phormium tenax or flax plant of New Zealand, from the various specimens of this plant which I have seen and particularly tried and examined, I can with confidence pro- page 610 nounce it a valuable material for the manufacture of ropes and sail-cloth, and for either of these purposes much superior to any Baltic hemp and flax that I have seen. In my opinion, its advantages over them are these: It is stronger, and from containing less colouring-matter (which when abundant encourages rot and putrefaction), this superior strength will be longer maintained; from its silky nature its fibres can be readily and minutely divided, which is a great advantage, as it can be equally well applied to the largest cable and the finest kind of twine, and also for making sail-canvas and other cloths that require-strength and resistance to mildew.

I can be no judge at what price this useful plant could be afforded, but if it could be imported at the average rate of the hemp and flax now in use, I have no doubt that it would be generally preferred.

I remain, &c.,

Cathcart Dempster.

Patentee for the Sail Cloth known in the Navy by the name of Dempster Patent Canvas.

Lieut. Colonel Nicol

, Royal Marines.