Our monthly outings with our Super Leisure Group friends are always a bit of a mystery trip. We are told when and where to assemble, and once all the noisy meeting and greeting has taken place, the first instructions for the day are given. Yesterday Calvin arranged for our group to be given a tour through a wallpaper factory in Porirua. None of us even knew that there was a wallpaper factory tucked away in the industrial area. Now called Aspiring Walls, once our elderly brain cells were given a nudge, we could all remember locally manufactured Ashley Wallpapers from years ago.
Once inside, we were given the very necessary Health and Safety talk, then split into two teams to look around the factory. Large rolls of paper were fed into the huge machines and came out the other end as patterned wallpaper, after the automated processes had been applied.
As one of the largest wallpaper manufacturing companies in the southern hemisphere and the only manufacturer in Australasia, Aspiring Walls currently employs around 75 staff, with many of them loyal and long term workers of many years. The factory manufactures three key brands; Vision, Ashley and House of York. All are sold in New Zealand and exported to Australia, Europe, the United Kingdom, Turkey, the USA, Saudi Arabia, Tahiti, Japan, China, Singapore, Hong Kong and Korea. With a turnover in excess of $220 million, the group employs around 600 people nationwide. We were told that the company has the contract to supply wallpaper in rebuilding many of the damaged houses in Christchurch after the devastating earthquakes.
Many in our group could remember using Anagyplta wallpaper when decorating years ago. For those who don’t know, Anagyplta is a plain, heavily embossed paper which was then painted over, giving a lovely texture. We stopped to look at the embossing dies rolls used to manufacture this paper, and Jan recognised one of the designs that she had in a previous home.
Our tour took us around the vinyl area where great big pots of vinyl and colour were mixed. Some of our group found the fumes a bit much in this area, and we quickly moved on. Past the storage area full of huge rolls of paper, and various pots of glue and adhesives. Then on to a wall full of further embossing dies and screens used to put patterns and colour on the wallpaper. There is a lot of money tied up in these metal cylinders, we were told.
Tour leader explaining how the colour is applied
It was a certainly a very interesting morning. Robin caused a bit of a stir when he admitted to the tour guide that he had never owned a house with wallpaper. Our Lockwood home had interior timber walls and our new home has painted walls, which seems to be the norm these days. The receptionist stepped in to take a photo or two of our group and the two tour guides. By this stage we were all ready for a hot drink and a sit down to rest our weary legs, let’s do lunch.