The little engine that couldn’t: the Miranui tramway

The Miranui flaxmill, located in the Makerua swamp just north of the Horowhenua town of Shannon, was once New Zealand’s largest flaxmill. The mill operated from 1907 to 1933, and had 19 mills, operating 42 flax-stripping machines and employing more than 700 workers during the height of the flax industry in 1916-17. Continue reading

Flaxmilling in the Manawatu

Now, the Manawatu region of New Zealand’s North Island [click here for map] is known for its farming and wind turbines, but for a few decades from the late 19th to early 20th centuries, flaxmilling was one of the region’s most important industries. When farmers began to drain the swampland to establish pasture in the late 19th century, they found the process stimulated the growth of the flax already growing naturally in the area.  From this chance discovery, flaxmilling grew from the 1870s and continued until the 1930s. Continue reading