Papermaking in New Zealand to 1900

The first paper to be produced in New Zealand is believed to have been hand-made from flax in 1861 at Mechanics Bay, Auckland. This was followed by a flax mill north of Wairoa c1875 promoted by T. S. Tinne, an engineer of Auckland, New Zealand. Though he is thought to have imported some machinery for his venture it appears unlikely he obtained a papermaking machine.

The first paper mill in New Zealand with a papermaking machine is believed to have been the Woodhaugh Mill which had commenced production by May 1876. This was situated on the Leith Stream in the south of the South Island. In December 1873 Edward McGlashan went to Melbourne, Australia, apparently with plans to acquire the papermaking machine of Samuel Fieldhouse who had built a paper mill there in the early 1870's but was reportedly in financial difficulties. Fieldhouse is believed to have had a sixty inch papermaking machine from the firm of Redfern, Smith and Law of Bury, Lancashire, England. However McGlashen was seriously injured in an accident soon after arriving in Melbourne and the papermaking machine, together with the mill buildings were acquired by Samuel Ramsden. McGlashen returned to New Zealand and subsequently arranged for a Mr. Lynn of Sydney, New South Wales to construct a small papermaking machine for him. This was delivered to Dunedin, New Zealand in November 1875.

A second mill commenced a couple of months later. This was the Mataura Paper Mill constructed and operated by James Walker Bain and the Mataura Paper Mill Company. Also located in the south of the Southern Island, this mill commenced production in late June 1876 with a papermaking machine made for them by Messrs. Moyes and Donald of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia. James Henry Bryant designed and supervised the construction of this machine. It arrived in New Zealand in January 1876 per the ship "The Witch of the Wave" accompanied by Bryant and his family and Bryant was appointed the first manager of the Mataura Paper Mill.

The third mill to commence production was the Riverhead Paper Mill, situated on the Waitemata Harbour near Kaipara, north of Auckland, New Zealand. The Riverhead Paper Mill Company Limited was incorporated in January 1899 and a paper mill was established in the refitted Waitemata flour mills by several Auckland entrepreneurs. In April 1899 an 54 inch MF Fourdrinier machine was ordered from J. S. Bertram & Son of Edinburgh, Scotland. The mill opened in early 1900.

These three mills merged in 1905 to become "New Zealand Paper Mills Ltd."


Angus, John H. Papermaking Pioneers (New Zealand Paper Mills, Ltd., Mataura, N.Z., 1976)

Clapperton, R. H. The Papermaking Machine (Pergammon Press)

Shep, Sydney Maids of Tartarus: Female Labour in the New Zealand Paper Industry (The Quarterly, vol. 56, October 2005, British Association of Paper Historians)

Shep, Sydney The Paper Record: Phormium Tenax and New Zealand Papermaking (The Quarterly, vol. 45, January 2003, British Association of Paper Historians)

Sinclair, E. Keith The Spreading Tree, A History of APM and Amcor 1844-1989 (Allen & Unwin, North Sydney, N.S.W., 1991)

West, Craig Woodhaugh Paper Mill 1876-1936 (former City of Dunedin website)

- First Paper Mills- Kenny's Mill- Woodhaugh Paper Mill
- Collingwood Paper Mills- Martelli's Planned Paper Mill- Mataura Paper Mill
- Dunmore Paper Mill- Ramsden's Paper Mill- Riverhead Paper Mill
- Liverpool Paper Mill- Fieldhouse's Paper Mill
- Wearne's Paper Mill- Barwon Paper Mill
- Waterloo Paper Mill- Austral Paper Mill
- Broadford Paper Mill

Biographies of Papermakers, etc.

Consolidated Bibliography

Article by Anne Pitkethly

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