In the 19th century, workers in the Mataura mill’s picking and sorting shed included children and old people. Their work involved cleaning rags – which would be used to make paper – of staples, pins and rubbish, and then grading them. Although the work was relatively light, the hours were long, and it was cold in winter. Wage rates for girls and adult pickers and sorters are not known, but in the 1890s boys aged 13 to 16 working at the mill received 10 shillings a week (the equivalent of $78 in 2008 terms).
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Reference: John. H. Angus, Papermaking pioneers: a history of New Zealand Paper Mills Limited and its predecessors. Mataura: New Zealand Paper Mills, 1976
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