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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Otago & Southland Provincial Districts]

Foreign Consuls

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Foreign Consuls.

In so far as New Zealand is concerned, a foreign consul is an officer appointed by a foreign government to reside in this country, in order to give protection to such subjects of the government, or citizens of the state, by which he is appointed as may have commercial dealings here, and to keep his government informed concerning any matters relating to trade which may be of advantage for it to know. To these duties are sometimes added others with objects more directly political. In some cases consuls are subjects or citizens of the state by which they are appointed, but this is by no means an invariable rule. Persons are usually selected for the office from the mercantile class, and it commonly happens that they are engaged in commerce at the port where their official residence is fixed. For many years the late Mr. E. B. Cargill was consul in Dunedin for Italy and the Netherlands. The countries now represented by consuls in Dunedin are Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, and the United States of America.

Mr. George Lyon Denniston , J.P., Consul for Belgium, is a younger brother of His Honour Mr. Justice Denniston. In 1877, in conjunction with Mr. Francis Renshaw, he established the firm of Renshaw, Denniston and Co., merchants and commission agents, Dunedin. Three years later, on the retirement of his partner, he carried on the business solely, continuing till 1882, when it was absorbed in the firm of Neill and Company, Ltd., of which Mr. Denniston became managing director. This position he held for eleven years, when he disposed of his interest, and took a holiday trip round the world. On his return to the Colony in 1894, Mr. Denniston resumed business on his own account. He has been prominent as a member of the Chamber of Commerce for many years, having filled the office of president for two consecutive years (1887–8), and was subsequently in office for a second and third term of equal duration, thus occupying the chair for six years in all. Mr. Denniston was also a member of the City Council, representing South Ward, for which he was elected in 1897, and was Mayor of Dunedin on the occasion of the Royal Visit in 1901. He is a trustee of the Dunedin Savings Bank; has been president and is now vice-president of the Dunedin Athletic Club, and for two years he was president of the Dunedin Football Club. Mr. Denniston was married in 1878 to the eldest daughter of the Hon. W. H. Reynolds, M.L.C., and has five sons and one daughter. He is further referred to as a merchant, as a former member of the City Council, and as having been Mayor of Dunedin.

Mr. Odin Henry Moller , who was appointed Vice-Consul for Denmark in October, 1903, in succession to Mr. William Holsted, is of Danish extraction. His father, Mr. Carl Moller, was one of the earliest Danish arrivals in Otago, and is well known as the founder of the firm of Messrs C. Moller and Sons, jewellery manufacturers, of the Octagon. Mr. O. H. Moller was born in Dunedin in May, 1868, and was educated at public schools and the Otago Boys' High School. He afterwards applied himself to the manufacture of jewellery in the firm of Messrs C. Moller and Sons, and many years later, in 1899, when his father retired, he entered into partnership with a younger brother, the two having since conducted the business under the original style. Mr. Moller was for many years a prominent member of the Otago Cycling Club, in which he held office as treasurer, secretary and vice-president. He took a high place in Freemasonry, and is Past Master of the Lodge Kilwinning, 417 S.C, Mr. Moller was a director of the Caledonian Society for four years, a member of the Albany Street school committee for two years, and secretary of the Union Street school committee for a similar period. He was married in 1896, and has two children.

Wrigglesworth and Binns, photo.Mr. O. H. Möller.

Wrigglesworth and Binns, photo.
Mr. O. H. Möller.

Mr. Percival C. Neill , Consul for France at Dunedin, comes from the north of Ireland, having been born in Belfast in 1842. He was educated at Mr. Hutton's private school in his birthplace, and received an early training in banking and mercantile pursuits in that part of Ireland, which has furnished so many brilliant business men, previous to coming out to the Colonies in 1859. On arrival, Mr. Neill joined the firm of Messrs. McCallum, Neill and Co., of Melbourne and Geelong, and in 1863 crossed over to Dunedin, New Zealand, as resident partner of that firm. Three years later he joined Messrs. James Henty and Co., of Melbourne, and extended that firm's business with considerable profit to New Zealand. He subsequently, when still a young man, bought out Messrs. Henty and Co., and established the well-known firm of Messrs. Neill and Co., which was incorporated as a limited company page 93 in 1882, and to which reference is made in another part of this volume. Mr. Neill in 1867 purchased the brick building which gave its name to Bond Street, and which had been recently erected on a valuable freehold site, upon what was then the foreshore of the harbour. It was the first substantial building in the city, and was then considered by many to be in advance of the times. Mr. Neill has held the office of French Consul since 1873, and has been generally a much respected citizen in Dunedin. Of a somewhat retiring and diffident disposition, he has not taken a prominent part in municipal or political affairs, but has been always found ready to assist individuals or the progress of the city by his advice or pecuniary aid. Mr. Nell was a member of the first Harbour Board, and has long been associated with the local Chamber of Commerce, of which he was at one time president. He has been a director of the Colonial Bank, the Westport Coal Company, Trustees and Executors Company, and many other companies. He also owns the valuable Okirae sheep station in the Wanganui district. Mr. Neill was married in 1866 to a daughter of Captain Foster Fyans (late 4th King's Own), well known in the early days of the Australian colonies, and latterly as Crown Commissioner at Geelong. Four sons and four daughters are the living issue of the marriage.

Mr. Bendix Hallenstein , J.P., German Consul at Dunedin, has long been well known in New Zealand as one of the most active and energetic men in the colony. He was born in 1835 and educated in Germany, and, on completing his course at school, he went to England, where he spent five years in a large shipping house in Manchester. At the age of twenty-two Mr. Hallenstein came out to Victoria, where he remained till 1863, when he crossed the Tasman Sea and took up his residence in Invercargill. A year later he removed to Queenstown—then a very prosperous township—and established himself in business. In 1866, in conjunction with his partner, the late Mr. J. W. Robertson, he built the first flour mill in the district at Kawarau, the outlet of Lake Wakatipu. This mill was named the Brunswick Flourmill, after Mr. Hallenstein's and his partner's birthplaces—Brunswick in Germany, and Brunswick in Canada, respectively. After ten years, during which time Mr. Hallenstein engaged largely and successfully in farming operations, he removed to Dunedin, which he has since made his home. During his residence in the Lakes district he took a prominent part in local and colonial politics; he was several times Mayor of Queenstown, and represented his district in the Otago Provincial Council, and in the House of Representatives. He resigned his seat in the House before leaving in 1874, but continued a member of the Council till the abolition of the provinces in 1876. On coming to Dunedin, Mr. Hallenstein actively engaged in the foundation and development of that splendid colonial industry, the New Zealand Clothing Factory, of which he is the managing partner. His brothers, who reside in London, are also interested in the firm. Mr. Hallenstein is also Chairman of Directors of the Drapery and General Importing Company of New Zealand Limited, better known as the D.I.C., which was established in 1884. He was also a director of Kempthorne, Prosser and Co.'s New Zealand Drug Company, of the National Insurance Company, of the Westport Coal Company, and several other companies. Mr. Hallenstein, in May, 1903, returned to Dunedin from a trip to the Home country, for which he left in 1900. He went with some members of his family, via Japan and the United States, staying about five weeks in Japan and six weeks in the States. Mr. Hallenstein thinks Japan is very much ahead in industrial pursuits. A great many young Japanese have for some time been going to Europe to study Western affairs in the Universities of the various European capitals, and he is of opinion that Japan will be heard of ere long. Before going Home he resigned his seat on the Board of Directors of Kempthorne, Prosser and Company, the National Insurance Company, the Westport Coal Company, and all other directorates in which he was interested, keeping only the office of German Consul. He was requested to retain his office as director of several boards, but thought it better to resign. On the way to San Francisco he met with a serious accident, but soon recovered. However, finding that his spine was affected, he went to Berlin to the Foreign Office to resign; but the German Imperial authorities asked him to withdraw his resignation, and he was prevailed upon to continue as consul. During his absence Mr. Willi Fels was acting consul. Mr. Hallenstein, who is generally respected by all who know him, has held the Commission of the Peace for about thirty years, and succeeded to the position of German Consul on the death of Mr. Houghton.

Mr. Francis William Petre , Acting Consular Agent for Italy, in Dunedin, was born in Wellington in 1847, and is a son of the late Hon. Henry William Petre, who was the second son of the eleventh Baron Petre, of Essex, England, and chairman of the original New Zealand Company. The subject of this sketch was educated at several distinguished Catholic colleges in England, and at Monsigneur Haprague's College, at Boulogne, France; and when a had spent some time in the Royal Navy. He was afterwards apprenticed to Messrs Samuda Brothers, naval architects and shipbuilders, of Millwall, London, and two years later, to Messrs Cubitt and Nichols, architects, of Grey's Inn Road, London. He completed his preparatory studies for his profession by a three years' course in architecture and engineering, and subsequently engaged in private practice in London. In 1872 Mr. Petre sailed for New Zealand, and has since occupied a prominent place amongst colonial architects. A full account of his professional work is given elsewhere in this volume. He was married, in 1881, to Miss Margaret Cargill, eldest daughter of the late Mr. E. B. Cargill, of Dunedin, and has six sons and six daughters. His eldest son served throughout the South African war as a member of the Imperial Light Horse, and is at present (1904) in the Capetown Rifles.

Mr. George Robert Ritchie , who was appointed Acting-Consul for the Netherlands in September, 1903, is the eldest son of Mr. John Macfarlane Ritchie, J. P., General Manager for the colonies of the National Mortgage and Agency Company of New Zealand, Limited. He was born in Dunedin in October, 1876, and completed his education at Loretto school, Edinburgh, where he spent five years. In 1896 he returned to Dunedin, and in January of the following year entered the service of the National Mortgage and Agency Company of New Zealand, Limited. Mr. Ritchie is a member of the Carisbrook Cricket Club, of the Otago Golf Club, and the Dunedin Club, and is a subaltern in the B Battery of the New Zealand Field Artillery.

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Mr. Charles William Rattray , who was appointed Vice-Consul for Portugal in 1900, is a partner in the firm of Messrs James Rattray and Son, founded by his father, Mr. James Rattray, J.P. He was born in July, 1863, and educated at Otago Boys' High School, and at Christ's College, Christchurch. In 1880 he entered the office of his father's firm, and became a partner seven years later. Mr. Rattray has been for many years a member of the Dunedin Chamber of Commerce, of which he was recently president, and is a member of the Otago Central Railway League, the Catlins River Railway League, and of the Dunedin Pastoralists' Association. As a footballer and cricketer, he has represented the province in both games. In 1896 Mr. Rattray married a daughter of Mr. P. C. Neill, of Dunedin, and has one son and two daughers.

Mr. Frederick Orlando Bridgeman , Consular Agent in Otago for the United States of America and the Hawaiian Islands, was born in Devonshire, England, in 1849, and was educated at the Tavistock Grammar School and by private tutors. Mr. Bridgeman commenced his banking career as a junior in 1867 in the West of England and South Wales District Bank, at Bristol. He joined the Oriental Bank Corporation, London in 1870, and went out to the East in 1873, serving eleven years in India and Ceylon. On the failure of the Oriental Bank, Mr. Bridgeman joined the Colonial Bank of New Zealand, taking up his duties in Dunedin in 1884 as assistant inspector. He was afterwards manager of the branch at Timaru, and left the service in 1888, having accepted the position of general manager of the Kauri Timber Company in Auckland. Five years later, Mr. Bridgeman joined the Bank of New Zealand as agent in Tauranga, and was transferred in 1895 to Dunedin as assistant manager. In 1899 he joined the well known mercantile firm of Neill and Co., Limited, and is now one of its managing directors. Mr. Bridgeman was married in 1886 to a daughter of Mr. P. C. Neill, of Dunedin, and has five sons and one daughter.

Late Consuls.

Mr. William Godfrey Neill , sometime Consul in Otago for the United States of America and the Hawaiian Islands, was born and educated in Belfast, Ireland, was the fifth son of the late Mr. Robert Neill, merchant, of that city, and arrived in Victoria in 1866. After a few months in that colony, he joined his brother, Mr. P. C. Neill, in Dunedin, and was with his firm, McCallum, Neill and Co., for several years. Having thus gained a knowedge of mercantile life, he entered into business as a general merchant in 1877, and became well known in that capacity. He was appointed consul for the United States and the Hawaiian Islands in 1895. Mr. Neill was married in 1875 to a daughter of the late Sir Francis Murphy, of Melbourne, and had three sons and two daughter. He was killed in a coach accident, near Roxburgh, on the 16th of April, 1900.

The Late Mr. W. G. Neill.

The Late Mr. W. G. Neill.