History

We’ve been part of New Zealand for over 150 years.history maori point old store

At the height of the gold rush in the mid-nineteenth century, we opened our first branch in Auckland and now we've some 170 stores nationwide.

History timeline

Check out how we’ve been part of New Zealand’s history.

1860 – 1899

1860s

  • Our first offices open in Queen Street, Auckland.
  • We open branches in Dunedin, Wellington, and Christchurch.
  • We acquire the account of the Central Government from the Union Bank.
  • London branch opens and is immediately appointed to act for the New Zealand Government in raising funds.history london store 1876

 1870s

  • We open a branch in Melbourne.
  • We absorb the Fiji Banking and Commercial Trading Company Ltd and open a branch in Levuka, Fiji.

 1880s

Due to the depression, our head office moves to London to ‘broaden the management expertise and improve confidence’.

1894

The New Zealand government became a majority owner of the Bank of New Zealand after it nearly collapsed due to the Long Depression, which started in the 1870s.

1900 – 1999

1900s

  • At this time, we have 119 branches and agencies with 551 staff.
  • Our head office returns to New Zealand.

1914 – 1918

  • WWI conscription leads to a shortage of staff.
  • Women are allowed to work for the bank for the first time.
  • 560 Bank of New Zealand officers join the forces for WWI; 71 are killed in action.

1920s

We establish New Zealand’s first long-term mortgage department. Interest is charged at 6% and repayment terms are up to 36 years.

1930s

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand is established and we stop issuing our own bank notes.

1940–1945

  • We lend the New Zealand Government £1million interest-free for the duration of WWII as a ‘contribution to the common cause’.
  • 921 Bank of New Zealand officers join the forces during WII; 54 are killed in action.
  • We open New Zealand’s first mobile banking office in a caravan to meet the needs of American servicemen.
  • We open New Zealand’s first personal loans department to grant loans to private individuals.
  • Finance Minister Walter Nash publicly announces that the New Zealand Government intends to nationalise the Bank of New Zealand, offering £7,933,000 in cash to 8,500 shareholders.

1950s 

  • At the beginning of the 1950s, we have 292 branches and agencies with 2,140 staff.
  • We get our own coat of arms.
  • A ladies’ bank opens in Auckland – New Zealand’s first bank for women.history ladies bank

1960s

  • We celebrate our centennial.
  • We establish the Bank of New Zealand Trading and Savings Bank.
  • We buy our first computer.

1970s

  • We’re a major sponsor of the Christchurch Commonwealth Games and have a unique onsite branch.
  • We introduce VISA to New Zealand as a debit card to current accounts. (In 1980, it becomes a credit card.)

1980s

  • We introduce EFTPOS to New Zealand through a pilot scheme with petrol stations.
  • We launch BNZ Life Insurance Limited.

1990s

  • The New Zealand government recapitalises BNZ, following the bank's announcement of a loss in 1989.
  • We start sponsorship of the Kiwi Recovery Programme.
  • We become part of the National Australia Bank Group.
  • We enter into a joint partnership to form Loyalty New Zealand and manage the Fly Buys Rewards programme.
  • Our GlobalPlus credit card launches the country’s first and only direct-earning loyalty programme – earning AirPoints DollarsTM dollars with Air New Zealand.
  • We introduce Direct Banking – a ‘virtual branch’ that customers can access by phone and fax.
  • We launch our Internet Banking, followed by on-line securities trading and FX dealing.

2000 – 2009

  • We launch Internet Banking for Business.
  • We introduce online statements, text alerts, and the extra security feature ‘NetGuard’ for Internet Banking.
  • Breaking traditional banking barriers, we introduce innovative ways for customer banking and money management. And our ‘branches’ become ‘stores’ reflecting our customer-focused approach to retail banking.
  • Our contact centre wins awards for excellence in service: 
    • ‘Best in banking’
    • ‘Best across all industries’
    • ‘Best in outbound customer calling’.
  • We celebrate 50 years of sponsoring the Katherine Mansfield writing awards.

2010 – today

  • We begin sponsorship of Plunket and the five New Zealand Super Rugby teams.
  • After the Christchurch earthquake, we are committed to being a sponsor and tenant at EPIC (Enterprise Precinct Innovation Campus) - a ground-breaking hub situated at the heart of the Christchurch rebuild.
  • We open Future Hub, which offers experience advice and support to help Canterbury property owners get back on their feet.
  • We launch the BNZ Mobile Banking app followed by the BNZ Mobile Business Banking app and PayClip.

For more information on our history, please contact the museum.

Museum

Our unique museum in Wellington showcases over 150 years of banking history in New Zealand.

The interactive displays and hands-on activities let you explore our history and show you how we've influenced banking through our innovation and commitment to New Zealand.

Where

BNZ Harbour Quays
Level 1
60 Waterloo Quay
Wellington
(opposite the railway station)

Open

Mon–Fri, 9:00–4:00pm
Free entry

Contact

Email: museum@bnz.co.nz
Phone: (04) 474 6933
Address:
BNZ Museum
Private Bag 39806
Wellington Mail Centre
Lower Hutt 5045

School visits

We have educational resources available for year 1–13 students when they come on a school visit to the museum.

These resources include some, or all, of the following topics:

  • Financial literacy
  • Gold and money
  • Banking history
  • New Zealand social history
  • Technology
  • Brand and marketing
  • BNZ and WWI - the changing workplace.

Please contact us to arrange a visit for your school.