Sunday, January 23, 2011

National Mortgage and Agency Co., of N.Z. Ltd

I've always been intrigued by how a small country like ours, so far from the world's markets and with mainly agricultural assets has progressed so fast. From bush to farms, from bare dirt to cities, from tracks to motorways, all in a short 170 years.

It was the finance which people in Europe were willing to send which has allowed this to happen I think. Plus, the climate permitted un-hindered growth by not giving us set-backs which many other countries have to suffer periodically. Plus the sort of immigrants attracted to stay here and work through the down times. Collectively it was an amazing effort.

The National Mortgage and Agency Co., of N.Z. Ltd is one of those finance agencies which brought money to New Zealand. Begun by a few people, the main person being George Gray Russell, an entrepreneurial type of person who had great faith in the ability of New Zealand to generate a profit. He attracted other like-minded people like John Macfarlane Ritchie whom he employed and Henry Le Cren, a french gentleman and a merchant banker. They in their turn, attracted others.

The foundations of the business were laid in 1866 in Timaru. They expanded into farming, wool, frozen meat, shipping and land.

This book, written by Gordon Parry and published in 1964 is well written and sticks to the subject from the skim-reading I have done of it. If you are interested in the financial side of New Zealand's colonial days, this would have to be on the reading list. I'm going to have to find a long rainy day to really get into it though.


  1. Typos! There's an article in the Cyclopedia of New Zealand (Otago) on the company, which ended up in English hands from 1878.

  2. Hey, I'm not an expert on financial matters. I assumed it was always in English hands, is it not where the profit always went?
    The use of the money was good for New Zealand.

  3. I have a portrait photo dated 26 March 1969 of the Prudential Assurance Co Ltd, N Z Branch Inaugural Meeting with N Z Millionaires Club. It is no use to me - but where does one send these photos to? I also have the history of Prudential in N Z 1922-1995.

  4. Hi Anon,

    I'd love to have both to display here. The financial side of the development of New Zealand is not often discussed. Insurance companies played their part.