Story: Factory industries

Young and old workers

Young and old workers

In the 19th century and early 20th century, factory workers included children and old people. The group shown here worked in the picking and sorting shed of the Mataura paper mill. Their work involved cleaning rags – which were 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 boys aged 13 to 16 working at the mill in the 1890s received 10 shillings a week ($87 in 2009 terms).

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Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand
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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How to cite this page:

Ian Hunter, 'Factory industries - Factories before the 1880s', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 8 December 2023)

Story by Ian Hunter, published 11 Mar 2010