Photograph, Field at Templeton's Flaxmill; Unknown photographer; 1910-1920; RI.P...


Photograph, Field at Templeton's Flaxmill

About this object

A black and white photograph of a field of flax and flax fibre drying on racks. Written on the back is 'M. Templeton'. This is believed to be Muir Templeton. Born 1886 at Thornbury, he was the first 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 later shifted closer to Riverton.

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 his son, Andrew, took over the management of the mill. In spite of the Depression he kept 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 2,700 tons of flax were being processed.

Reference: Patrick, Elaine. 1998. Southern People; A dictionary of Otago and Southland. Longacre Press: Dunedin City Council. pg. 502. A copy is available to view in the Te Hikoi Museum Research Room, Riverton.

Place Made

Oceania, New Zealand, South Island, Southland, Riverton-Aparima


Unknown photographer

Maker Role


Date Made


Inscription and Marks

Handwritten in black marker on the front: 'A.J. Templeton and Sons Flaxmill'
Stamped on the back: 'Wallace Early Settlers Museum, Riverton'
Stamped on the back: 'Wallace Early Assn Inc, Riverton'
Witten in white on the back: 'P39.93.520'
Handwritten in black marker on the back: '255'
Handwritten on the back: 'Mr M. Templeton'
Handwritten on the back: 'A.J. Templeton + sons flaxmill'


Image: h 98 mm x w 147 mm
Mount: h 202 mm x w 253 mm



Object Type


Subject and Association Keywords


Medium and Materials

organic, processed material, paper
organic, processed material, cardboard

Object number



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

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