Photograph, A J Templeton and sons flax mill ; Unknown photographer; 1940-1950; ...


Photograph, A J Templeton and sons flax mill

About this object

Andrew Johnston Templeton was born on 24 February 1897 at Thornbury. He was the seventh of 10 children of Jessie and William Templeton. In 1911 the family moved to a property at Otaitai Bush which had flax swamps, and a mill, which William shifted closer to Riverton. Andrew and his brothers helped their father to run the mill. Jessie and her daughters ran a kitchen, from which they produced meals for up to 24 men.

The four eldest brothers went to fight in world war one, while the remaining family ran the mill to produce the rope and twine needed for the war effort. Prices had boomed during the war, but slumped in the 1920s. William retired in the 1920s and Andrew took over the management of the mill. In spite of the depression he kept it running, and made it pay, although he also diversified his property to carry cattle and sheep.

During world war two, flax milling was again declared an essential industry and prices rose. The fibre was used for wool packs, flax matting, and filling for upholstery, as well as rope and twine. In its heyday the Otaitai Bush mill was turning out over 300 tons of fibre a year which meant some 2700 tons of flax were being processed.


Patrick, Elaine. 1998. Southern People; A dictionary of Otago and Southland. Longacre Press: Dunedin City Council. pg. 502

A copy is available in the Te Hikoi Museum research room, Riverton.

Place Made



Unknown photographer

Maker Role


Date Made


Inscription and Marks

Handwritten in black ink on the back: 'P28.93.387'
Handwritten in blue ink on the back: 'A J Templeton & Sons Flax mill'
Stamped on the back: 'Wallace Early Settlers Museum Riverton'


h x 63 mm x w 109 mm



Object Type


Subject and Association Keywords

People and Families (including births, weddings, deaths)

Medium and Materials

organic, processed material, paper

Object number



Attribution - Non-commercial (cc) Attribution - Non-commercial (cc)

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