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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]

Macdonald, Thomas Kennedy, and Co., Limited

Macdonald, Thomas Kennedy, and Co., Limited, Auctioneers, Land, Estate, and General Agents, Sharebrokers, and Commission Agents, Exchange Auction Rooms, Lambton Quay, Wellington. Manager, Mr. J. G. Chapman; adviser, Mr. T. Kennedy Macdonald. Bankers, National Bank of New Zealand. Telephone 1; P.O. Box 34. The large business now carried on by this firm was founded by Mr. Thomas Kennedy Macdonald in 1873. Conducted by Mr. Macdonald solely till 1891, it was then incorporated under the above well-known name, and has earned the distinction of being since its inception one of the most prominent land auctioneering firms in New Zealand. Mr. Macdonald's ancestors—an old Highland family—were settled for some hundreds of years near Fort William in Scotland, though his parents resided for several years in France, Mr. Macdonald being born in Boulognesur-mer in 1847. During the French Revolution of the following year the family returned to Scotland. At the age of twenty-four Mr. Macdonald arrived in Wellington, and within a few months began to take a prominent part in matters commercial, municipal, and political. A strong Protectionist, he has persistently advocated his views and the establishment of local industries. He has been successful in promoting many splendid local concerns, of which the Colony has occasion to be proud. In not a few cases, however, his action led to his incurring considerable personal loss. Among the most important companies in which Mr. Macdonald took so prominent apart may be named the Gear Meat Preserving and Freezing Company, the Wellington Woollen Company, of which he was chairman and page 567 managing director for ten years, during which period the Company was raised from a position of practical insolvency to that of a sound dividend-paying concern, with its shares at a considerable premium; and the Equitable Building and Investment Company, a most successful institution, which he managed for several years. The Wellington City Tramways, which are such a boon, were established by Mr. Macdonald, in conjunction with Messrs. Henderson and O'Neill. In public matters connected with industry he has ever taken a leading position. In connection with the New Zealand Industrial Exhibition of 1885, His Excellency the Governor referred in public to Mr. Macdonald's services. Three years later, at the Industrial and Protection Society Conference, his assistance was invaluable, and as a member and president of the Chamber of Commerce he has been indefatigable. Mr. Macdonald has always shown a keen interest in local government; for some years he filled the position of senior auditor for the City of Wellington, with distinguished ability; afterwards he sat for the Te Aro Ward as a member of the Council (see page 295); in 1888 he was invited by one of the largest requisitions ever presented to a citizen to stand for election as Mayor, but declined. In all matters affecting the City of Wellington Mr. Macdonald takes a leading part, his personal devotion to the best interests of the City being recognised by all classes. He strongly opposed in public meeting the proposals of Mr. Samuel Brown, as Mayor, in reference to the reclaimed land, and was successful in compelling the withdrawal of the Bill before Parliament to give effect to the proposals, and thereby saved the Wellington City Exchequer an amount estimated at from £50,000 to £60,000. He also opposed the free concessions given to the Electric Light Syndicate—now admitted to be a great error—and strongly protested against the drainage scheme at present being carried out in the City of Wellington as being crude and imperfect. Mr. Macdonald was returned as one of the members of the House of Representatives in 1890, (see page 267), but resigned after two sessions of Parliament. During that period his ability in connection with financial matters was specially recognised, while his honorary services for four months as one of the three commissioners on the celebrated Public Trust Commission proved of great public value. In land matters Mr. Macdonald has always been admitted to be one of the leading experts in New Zealand. When the General Government made the allocation of some 250,000 acres to assist the construction of the Wellington and Manawatu Railway, the Government and the Railway Company selected Mr. Macdonald to act as umpire to determine any dispute as to the value of the land. In company with the Surveyor-General and the Company's representative, Mr. Macdonald thoroughly inspected that great area. He has also on several occasions made special reports to the Government of the day on various blocks of country, and his recommendations have been followed with highly beneficial results to the public interests. When the Seddon Government passed the Advances to Settlers Act in 1894, Mr. Macdonald was invited to place his services at the disposal of the Government as Superintendent Valuer, and is at present filling that office. In connection with the Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company just referred to, Mr. Macdonald took an active part in the formation of the Company, and for several years acted as its senior auditor. Every acre belonging to the Company, and disposed of by them, has first been submitted by Mr. Macdonald as auctioneer, and the great success which has attended the Company's land auction sales has been greatly due to his energy and ability. The land auction advertisements of the firm are literary productions of a high order of merit, and, coupled with Mr. Macdonald's own eloquence as a speaker and auctioneer, have been great factors in the very extensive business carried on by his firm. The operations of Messrs. T. Kennedy Macdonald and Co., Limited, are conducted in the large three-story brick building known as the Exchange Auction Rooms, which is situate in the most central part of Lambton Quay.