Lindsay Cairns has been running Masterweave for 35 years. Photo by Nicola Edmonds. 

Meet the maker: Masterweave throws and blankets


One of just two weaving mills left in New Zealand, Masterweave in Wairarapa creates luxurious blankets, throws and scarves out of natural fibres.

It all began more than 35 years ago when Lindsay Cairns, a Wairarapa goat farmer came across a defunct textile mill in the heart of Masterton. What started as a small off-farm interest soon became Lindsay’s new career as he learned the ropes of weaving.

“As a farmer I was frustrated that we weren’t making more products with New Zealand wool or mohair in New Zealand,” Lindsay says. “That was what started my interest.

Masterweave machine INP

The weaving machines at work at the Masterweave factory. Photo by Nicola Edmonds.

“Because I had a farming background I picked up the necessary skills fairly quickly. I’m just a practical Kiwi bloke!” he laughs.

Originally the bulk of Masterweave Textiles' business was making traditional woollen rugs. “In the 60s and 70s everyone had a travel rug in the back shelf of their car,” Lindsay says. “Woollen rugs were a still big market in the late 80s and initially we sold thousands of those. But that fell away with the increase in Chinese imports and people’s bedding preferences changing to duvets. So we shifted into boutique products using mohair, alpaca and now our boucle wool.”

Today, Masterweave has a team of eight staff working in the completely solar-powered Masterton factory. “When people think of textile mills they think of big factories with hundreds of people, but those days are gone. For New Zealand, anyway. We are bigger than a craft mill, but we’re certainly not in the big league!” Lindsay says.

Masterweave blankets INP

Lindsay Cairns inspects some of the beautiful textiles made at Masterweave. Photo by Nicola Edmonds.

The company produces around 20,000 mohair and alpaca throws and between 12-15,000 merino scarves each year. “About a third of our stock is exported, mostly into Australia but also the US and Europe, a third goes to the tourist industry in New Zealand – tourists love locally-made, Kiwi products. The rest is sold via homeware or department stores.”

Not only does Masterweave supply bespoke blankets and throws for luxury lodges like Millbrook and Huka Lodge, the company was also responsible for crafting a lot of the textiles used in the costumes for Lord of the Rings.

“We did most of the general, large-scale weaving for the films, which meant we had one machine weaving for six months just on Lord of the Rings,” Lindsay says. “Everything had to be made in two scales, of course. When a hobbit has a blanket and he hands it to Gandalf, it needed to be made in two different sizes and both had to drape and flow in the same way.”

Masterweave display INP

Masterweave produces a range of blankets and throws out of natural New Zealand-grown fibres. Photo by Nicola Edmonds.

As a former farmer himself, Lindsay says he is glad to be supporting the local textile industry and the farmers who produce it. “New Zealand mohair is our main line. Before we started using it you could only really get South African mohair throws in New Zealand. So I’m proud that we’ve brought New Zealand mohair to the local market. We source mohair mostly from the South Island and we probably take the majority of that fibre grown in New Zealand to use for our blankets and throws.”


Story by Jo Percival for the Autumn 2024 issue of AA Directions Magazine. Jo Percival is the Digital Editor of AA Directions.

AA Directions has a luxurious Masterweave mohair throw to give away. The lucky winner can select their preferred throw from the Masterweave range of products.
To be in to win, enter here! 

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