The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Otago & Southland Provincial Districts]
Mr. James Mills
Mr. James Mills , the Managing Director, was born in Wellington on the 30th of July, 1847, and is the third son of the late Mr. William Mills, who was long connected with the Customs Department of New Zealand, and who, after occupying the position of Collector at Dunedin, Auckland, and Christchurch, retired from the service in 1875, and died in Dunedin in 1900, at the advanced age of ninety-one. Mr. James Mills removed with his parents to Port Chalmers in 1849, and in 1852 his family took up their residence in Dunedin. Mr. Mills' first experience of business was in the house of Messrs James Macandrew and Company, which he left, after a year's service, to join Mr. John Jones, who at that time carried on a large business in Dunedin as a merchant and shipowner. The shipping department of Mr. Jones' business was afterwards converted into a company, which traded under the name of the Harbour Steam Company, and for some years the fleet of small steamers owned by the company carried on a trade between Dunedin and neighbouring ports. On the death of Mr. Jones, in 1839, Mr. Mills, who had for some time previously managed its affairs, was appointed manager of the Harbour Steam Company, a position which he held until 1875. In that year a company was formed for the purpose of acquiring the interests of the Harbour Steam Company, and embarking in a wider field of operations. This company was the now well known Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand, and on its initiation, Mr. Mills was appointed Managing Director, an office which he has held to this day. Mr. Mills when quite a youth was elected member for Waikouaiti, in the Provincial Council of Otago, and held his seat until the abolition of provincial government, in 1875. On the death of the Hon. James Macandrew, who represented Port Chalmers in the General Assembly, Mr. Mills was invited to fill the vacancy, and in 1887 he took his seat as member for that district. At the next election, in 1890, he was opposed by Mr. J. A. Millar, but was returned by a large majority. He finally retired from political life in 1893. Mr. Mills is well known throughout the Australasian colonies as a supreme expert in all matters appertaining to shipping; he has made numerous trips to England in connection with his Company's business, and has been singularly successful in his negotiations with the various Governments with whom his Company has entered into agreements in connection with mail services, etc. His name is inseparably associated with the rise and progress of the Union Company. Although the prosperity of the colony has contributed largely to the rapid growth of the Company's trade, still Mr. Mills and his Board of Directors had the foresight to make provision for the development of the country's resources, and the exceptional business ability which Mr. Mills has shown throughout his long term of authority has been a leading factor in the Company's success.