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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Nelson, Marlborough & Westland Provincial Districts]


page 85


The three most important forms of insurance in New Zealand are those of fire, marine, and life, and the leading representative companies of the world long since established branches throughout the colony, in addition to which there are a number of insurance companies of New Zealand origin. In the city of Nelson three companies—the New Zealand Insurance Company, the Australian Mutual Provident Society, and the New Zealand Government Life—have branch offices in charge of local managers; and most of the other companies doing business in the colony are represented by local agents. Despite the fact that the majority of the buildings in Nelson are of wood, no destructive fires of any magnitude have occurred in the city. The efficiency of the local fire brigade and the improved water supply should still further protect the town from disastrous fires in the future. However, for the colony generally, the year 1904 was the worst that the insurance companies have experienced in New Zealand since the introduction of the present tariff. A fire at Gore resulted in the loss of £20,000; Kempthorne, Prosser and Co.'s Wellington warehouse accounted for £35,000; and a fire in the warehouse of T. and S. Morrin, Limited, of Auckland, cost the insurance companies £60,000. Neither did the province of Nelson escape, as a fire in the town of Collingwood, on the 6th of November, resulted in a loss of £12,500, and the Nelson Boys' College, totally destroyed on the 7th of December, was insured for £15,000. Other losses in New Zealand during the same year made a total—unofficially estimated—of £400,000. The youngest insurance company in the colony is the State Fire Insurance Department, which opened its doors to the public on the 4th of January, 1905. The condition of the marine insurance market was summed up by the “London Times” of the 5th of December, 1904, in the one word “rotten,” though it added that “the whitest spot was the condition of war risks, which had, on the whole, been very profitable. Captures had not been nearly so numerous as might have been expected.” Life insurance, however, had been far more prosperous, and some of the companies published record returns for the year 1904.

Fire And Marine.

The New Zealand Insurance Company . Established 1859. Branch Office, Trafalgar Street, Nelson. Head Office, Auckland. This well-known Insurance Company opened its Nelson branch in 1861, when Messrs Curtis Bros, acted as agents. The branch, which includes the Nelson and Westland provinces, with agencies at Richmond, Takaka, Motueka, Brightwater, Westport, Reefton, Greymouth and Hokitika, is under the management of Mr. C. E. Wilson, who was promoted in 1898, in succession to his father. The company does the premier insurance business of the provinces of Nelson and Westland, and the insurances in force at the branch amount to £300,000.

Mr. J. Wilson , formerly Manager of the Nelson branch of the New Zealand Insurance Company, was the oldest officer in the company's service, he having joined the staff in 1861 in Auckland. After several years of good and faithful service in that city, he was transferred to Greymouth as chief agent for the district of Westland. In 1880 he was promoted to be manager for the district of Nelson, but vacated the position in December, 1898. Mr. Wilson died at Nelson in the middle of April, 1899, aged sixty-eight years.

Life And Live Stock.

The Australian Mutual Provident Society was established in the year 1849. Its head office is in Pitt Street, Sydney, and the head office for New Zealand is on Custom House Quay, Wellington. During the year 1901, the Society accepted and completed proposals amounting to £3,699,434; the total amount of its policies in force at the same date was £53,786,864, and the surplus for the year amounted to £704,677 8s 5d. The branch office of the Australian Mutual Provident Society in Nelson is situated at the corner of Trafalgar and Hardy Streets.

Mr. James Hair , District Secretary of the Australian Mutual Provident Society at Nelson, was appointed to his present post in the year 1905. He formerly held a similar position in Christchurch, and is referred to at page 267 of the Canterbury volume of this Cyclopedia.

The Government Life Insurance Department has a branch conveniently situated in Hardy Street, Nelson. It was opened in 1885, and controls the whole of that business in the Nelson and Marlborough districts. There is an office in Blenheim, and the branch keeps four canvassors continually at work throughout the provincial districts.

Mr. Alexander Plunkett Burnes , Agent in Nelson for the Government Life Insurance Department, has been in charge since Christmas, 1893. He joined the service in 1879 at Wellington, where he remained six years. During a portion of 1885 Mr. Burnes was relieving officer at Wanganui, Napier and elsewhere, and was afterwards stationed at Dunedin for seven years. In 1888 he was in charge of the Oamaru agency.