Chocka-Block Full of Chocolate

The other week I went to visit our colleagues at the Nelson Provincial Museum.

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I was especially interested to see how they presented the story of the Wakefield Company, whose history intersects with both Petone and Nelson.

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While there I also got a tour of their collections store, and felt most envious of their beautifully laid-out storage units.

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A connection between our museums I didn’t expect was their display on the Griffins Biscuit Factory, which started in Nelson, before opening in Lower Hutt. Mr John Griffin began a flour and cocoa mill in Nelson in 1884, expanding by 1890 into biscuits. (Apologies for this rather blurry snap).

Griffins Factory, Lower Hutt, 1973.

Griffins Factory, Lower Hutt, 1973.

In 1938 a factory was built in Lower Hutt, and the biscuit part of the business was relocated here. The factory made Gingernuts, Milk Arrowroot, Super Wine, Vanilla Wine, and Round Wine biscuits, and, when WW2 broke out, began making army ration biscuits.

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For many years the factory was an economic powerhouse for Petone, employing many locals. When the Lower Hutt factory finally closed in December 2008 to relocate to Auckland, it was truly the end of an era. However, the Petone Settlers Museum was lucky enough to be gifted a number of items from the factory, including this cheeky little guy above,

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and this train full of cookies!

Girl Guide mold, Griffins. Collection of the Petone Settlers Museum.

Girl Guide mold, Griffins. Collection of the Petone Settlers Museum.

We were given a number of biscuit molds, including this one which made that most iconic of snacks, Girl Guide biscuits.

Items from the Griffins Factory. Collection of the Petone Settlers Museum.

Items from the Griffins Factory. Collection of the Petone Settlers Museum.

We’re so grateful to have these mementos of such an important and dearly loved part of Lower Hutt’s history.

Next up: Bev, our Collections Manager, will tell you about her visit to the factory on its very last day of operation…

Emma Bugden, Senior Curator 

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