Magazine article New Zealand Management

Age of Enterprise: Rediscovering the New Zealand Entrepreneur 1880-1910

Magazine article New Zealand Management

Age of Enterprise: Rediscovering the New Zealand Entrepreneur 1880-1910

Article excerpt

AGE OF ENTERPRISE: REDISCOVERING THE NEW ZEALAND ENTREPRENEUR 1880-1910 * IAN HUNTER * AUCKLAND UNIVERSITY PRESS * $50.00

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Few of the country's leading historians have known much about business. Keith Sinclair and Bill Oliver were poets and Michael King an authority on Maoritanga. King and James Belich's fathers had distinguished careers in the advertising industry, but no discernible influence on their sons' world view.

In Age of Enterprise, Ian Hunter writes: "Compared to countries such as England, France, Denmark, Japan or Germany, the study of business history and its analysis and applications to present-day commerce [in New Zealand], is in its infancy."

As he points out, "Michael King's popular Penguin History of New Zealand devotes just nine pages of the first 300 to discussion of New Zealand's economic development ... Similarly, in the first half of his 600-page volume Paradise Reforged, James Belich grants 23 pages to the development of the frozen meat industry--which Belich terms the 'protein trade'--while other industries and business events are largely absent,"

Hunter makes the valid, often overlooked, point that history is as much about business as it is about wars, politics, social trends and national identity. And has more than a little to do with all of them,

Conventional historical wisdom has categorised the 1880-1910 period as the 'Long Depression'. Hunter maintains it was, in fact, New Zealand's 'Age of Enterprise': "At no point in the years conveniently bundled as the Long Depression did New Zealand's population fall--instead it increased 65 percent. …

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