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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 6, Issue 2 (June 1, 1931)


Colonel J. J. Esson, C.M.G., who is to be the first chairman of the Railway Board, was born at Picton in 1869, and was educated at public schools and privately. He joined the Public Service in the Post and Telegraphic Department at Picton in 1881. From Picton he was transferred to New Plymouth, Marton and Wellington. In Wellington he was transferred to the accounts branch, where he took charge of the clearing room. After twenty - five years in the Postal Department, he was transferred to the Treasury, where he held successively the positions of clerk-in-charge of the pay and revenue branch, and Chief Clerk and Inspector. In 1916 he was appointed Accountant and Assistant-Secretary. On the retirement of Colonel Collins as Auditor
S. P. Andrew, photo. Colonel J. J. Esson, temporary Chairman of the Railway Board.

S. P. Andrew, photo.
Colonel J. J. Esson, temporary Chairman of the Railway Board.

General, and the appointment of Colonel Campbell in his place, Colonel Esson succeeded the latter as Secretary to the Treasury. Following the war, he was a member of the Economic Commission set up by the Government, and was also a member of the Uniformity Board, covering the different services of the State, and the Stores Control Board. He was recalled from active service in connection with special work on finance and defence. He acted as Assistant Public Service Commissioner during the regrading of the Service. Having had nearly forty - four years’ service, he was retired voluntarily on superannuation and the Government, desirous of utilising his expert financial training and knowledge, retained him as Financial Adviser.
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In 1925 Colonel Esson was appointed Chairman of the Royal Commission on Rural Credits, which investigated farm finance in the various countries of the world, and furnished a valuable report to the Government as a basis for our present Rural Intermediate Credits Act. Subsequently he was appointed Chairman of the Rural Intermediate Credits Board.

Having had lengthy service in the Volunteer and Territorial Forces, he was commander of the old Wellington City Rifles, and later of the 5th Wellington Regiment. When war broke out he volunteered for active service, and was selected for duty on the headquarters staff, being appointed Assistant-Quartermaster-General to the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. He was mentioned in dispatches and awarded the C.M.G. After the evacuation of the Peninsula he was appointed Colonel Commandant of the N.Z.E.F. in Egypt.