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Ideology or economics: government banking in New Zealand

Andrew Cardow (School of Management, Massey University Albany, Auckland, New Zealand)
David Tripe (Centre for Banking Studies, School of Economics and Finance, Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand)
William Wilson (School of Economics and Finance, Massey University Albany, Auckland, New Zealand)

Journal of Management History

ISSN: 1751-1348

Article publication date: 28 June 2011




This paper aims to argue that in the short history of New Zealand banking, political experimentation, based at first upon socialist ideology of the 1940s led to the nationalisation of The Bank of New Zealand (BNZ), followed by a period of neo‐liberalism in the 1980s and early 1990s in which the bank was privatised. It further argues that the establishment of Kiwibank Ltd in New Zealand at the dawn of the twenty‐first century was a return to the political ideology of the 1940s.


The paper discusses the nationalisation and subsequent privatisation of the BNZ and draws a parallel between the perceived banking environment as it existed in New Zealand in the twentieth century and as it existed at the establishment of Kiwibank. By way of context setting it also discusses the political environment as it relates to the nationalisation of the Bank of England.


The paper finds that in New Zealand, political experimentation, not commercial pragmatism, was the underlying motivating factor for the state's involvement in banking.


The paper contributes to the pool of knowledge regarding the political motivations behind nationalisation and state ownership of banking assets. The article is of interest to economic and political historians as well as those who study New Zealand political party history. Future policy makers could do well to reflect upon the motivations for state ownership of banking assets by asking if their decisions are driven by ideology or economics.



Cardow, A., Tripe, D. and Wilson, W. (2011), "Ideology or economics: government banking in New Zealand", Journal of Management History, Vol. 17 No. 3, pp. 299-314.



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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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