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Foxton flax museum at risk of closure as curator struggles to find replacement

If you like public speaking, local history and flax, then this may just be the job for you.

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A small museum in Foxton dedicated to New Zealand’s flax industry is at risk of closing if the current curator can’t find somebody to help run it. Source: 1 NEWS

A small museum in Foxton dedicated to New Zealand's flax industry is at risk of closing if the current curator can't find someone to help run it.

For 30 years, Tony Hunt has been showing visitors how flax can be turned into a variety of items and explaining how New Zealand’s once thriving industry worked at Foxton’s Flax Stripper Museum.

Hunt is at the museum six days a week, but he’s getting old and has Alzheimer’s disease - so he’s looking for a replacement "to help out for a start and then, if they’re good enough, take over - depends how soon I depart the coil". 

For hundreds of years, before European settlers arrived in the country, Māori used flax for many of their everyday needs, including things like clothing, baskets and fishing lines.

Then, from the late 19th Century, with the introduction of the flax stripping machine, it became a major industry nationwide.

But Hunt claims Foxton is the flax capital of New Zealand.

“No one else has made anything out of flax fibre other than rope and Foxton not only made rope, but it made wall packs and wall coverings and underfelt. No one else has done anything, so that’s why it’s the capital – so no one can challenge us,” Hunt explained.

Though the industry came to an end in the 1980s after synthetic fibres came along, Hunt wants New Zealand’s flax history to be remembered.

"I can't see why it's any less important than anything else that we preserve in our country."

Hunt plans to stay on at the museum until he can find someone to take up the mantle.