Last night I was doing a bit of wool mill research (as you do on a Friday night) and I found something that stopped me in my tracks! It’s a historical New Zealand Census for 1910. In it had some extremely specific numbers that made me so excited!
So here’s where I got up to:
1910, effectively 111 years ago. Which is only 39 years after the first wool mill (Mosgiel Woollen Mills) opened and pre-WW1. At that time there were 11 mills operating and our population was just over 1million.
Blanket pairs 67,201
Shawls & Rugs 49,073
Holy moly! 67000 PAIRS
So you could say Shawls, Rugs and Blankets combined that EACH mill was producing almost 17k of blanket items that year.
I’m not sure what I’m going to do with this info that is now taking rent in my head.
I think I get a bit caught up when find an actual firm piece of information because SO much of my findings are based on observations, making connections and deductions. A fully fledged piece of info is a marker I can then build on and create the bigger picture. Why? Maybe I’m just bat-wool crazy. Or maybe because if I can understand better I can serve and share better too.
It’s safe to say the world 100 years on has got a hella lot smaller, our options are greater and NZ imports are huge. Our technology has increased, globally production is off the charts but here in NZ manufacturing has plummeted in many areas beyond just wool. There are so many complicated parts of this conversation. Much around labour costs, labour conditions, environmental areas beyond my expertise and knowledge.
I find it a little heartening to know what was. How capable NZ was at that time and the following 70ish years. I know there is a shadow side of working conditions in some of these factories. It only takes a browse of the Census as a whole to be confronted with frankly rather horrific language and social stigmas of the time.
For now I will muse as I repair… Are we ready for progress forward in taking back some of our capability? Will enough of us say no to the cheap and easy and instead opt for workmanship well done? Are our emerging workforce even interested in this type of work or is the call of Insta-famous too much?
I am hopeful. Also 67,200 and ONE Pairs!!