First People Then Banking

Photo caption – Foundation presidents of what is now Trust Bank Eastern and Central: Sir Edwin Bate, foundation president of the bank who served in that office 1962-67 and as a trustee until 1975, stands in the centre of this group. At right is Sir Peter Tait, the bank’s first deputy president (1962-67), president 1968-69 and trustee until 1975. At left is J. E Greenslade, foundation president of the Manawatu Wairarapa Savings Bank (1963-1967, 1969-70) and trustee of that bank until 1972, when it merged with the Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne Savings Bank to become Trust Bank Eastern & Central.

of any sum from one shilling to £100 were accepted and interest at 5% was paid on amounts invested for three months. Because of the small population and also because of competition from the Post Office Savings Bank, the trustees decided there was not sufficient scope for two such similar institutions and, in 1898, decided to close the bank. Surplus funds of £491 were handed to the Colonial Treasurer, (10)

Belated hopes that the credit of £491 could be a first deposit in the new Hawke’s Bay


Maps showing original 25-mile radius and present coverage of bank with branches identified.


Photo caption – Wide-eyed wonder as a very young saver looks at this money-box collection during a Savings Week at Waipukurau.

4: The Gisborne Connection

The Gisborne delegation which flew by scheduled NAC service to Hawke’s Bay on July 6, 1964, leaving at 7.10am, settled matters so successfully with Hawke’s Bay Savings Bank trustees in Hastings that morning that the following day the deputy-Mayor of Gisborne could announce the expected opening of a branch bank in Gisborne on September 1. Although “there might be secession in later years if circumstances warranted Gisborne having its own bank.” (1), the Hastings meeting of minds agreed on the appointment of two Gisborne trustees to the board of the bank and a pro rata share of investments and profits.

Gisborne city councillors, at a meeting on the evening of July 7, 1964, agreed. So it was that the Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne Savings Bank won formal approval at regional level, allowing the Gisborne branch to be officially opened for business on October 1964.

In the first place Gisborne interests who saw the advantages of a provincial trustee savings bank wanted their very own bank, based on Gisborne. The Gisborne Town Clerk, W. Hudson, began writing letters on the subject, on behalf of his council, in mid-1962. Having lived in the far south and seen at first hand the successful operations of the Invercargill and Dunedin Savings Banks, he was an enthusiastic supporter of the move to

9AM – 4PM
9AM – 8.30PM

Photo caption – New manager outside the new branch, Ewing Robertson outside the bank’s first premises in Gisborne, in the T and G. building in Grey Street, on the day the branch opened for business, October 1, 1964.

treasurer to count the takings, including a suitcase of small coins from a baby competition).

At least one branch manager when business was quiet or near non-existent and required to keep an ear open for the telephone would station himself outside the premises with a pocketful of application forms and accost passers-bys. Every depositor counted and the more the merrier!

They were entrepreneurs of a sort, cast in a trustee savings bank role very different from that most knew in the well structured organisation of a trading bank or the Post Office Savings Bank. With very limited capital resources with which to establish branches, the bank expected staff (managers especially) to buckle down and make-do, even to initial sawing and hammering with secondhand timber. Some branch books were handposted in the early days with an overnight return of the day’s figures sent to Hastings.

Pay   NapierCcardiac Trust Fund   or Bearer

Photo caption – “Operation Heartbeat” a money-raising promotion by Napier Jaycees which included an address in Napier by heart transplant pioneer Professor Christian Barnard, resulted in this cheque for $23,596 drawn on the bank for the cardiac unit of the Napier Public Hospital. Ian Price, convenor of “Operation Heartbeat,” at left and Graham Beattie, president of Napier Jaycees, at right, hold the cheque, which is being received by Sir Edwin Bate (chairman of the Hawke’s Bay Hospital Board and a former president of the bank, second from left). Sister Olwyn Watson (sister in charge of the cardiac unit) and H. J. Macalister (chairman of the promotional council for the cardiac unit).

opportunist highlights to help create community interest and thus build business through new accounts and higher deposits. It was time to look at longer-term strategy, to which end Ewing Roberston [Robertson] (advertising and public relations manager) toured Australian State savings banks in May 1969. His report became a background briefing for future development

“I left Australia with no doubt in my mind that the days of pure savings banks are numbered and unless they broaden services and move with the public demand for services all under one roof, they will lose their important part in our financial society. Some new services would produce problems, but none of them unsolveable.”

Services he recommended the bank consider or implement were:
School scholarships.
Quiz programmes.
Market research at branches.

Photo caption – Openings of new branches, or refurbishing of old, have been recognised as special occasions by the bank and often observed with receptions and V. I. P. ceremonial. The opening of the extended Napier branch in 1969 was a swinging show, complete with jazz band. Selwyn Toogood, a mini “In the Bag” performance and general high jinks enjoyed by all – as this picture shows.

natural colour cast aluminium.

Christopher Vine also completed a mural for the bank’s new branch opened in Gisborne, being commissioned for the job because of his speciality with pottery and ceramics together with a proven artistic ability.

While there was change in buildings (plus their murals), there was change among people, too.

In mid-1975 two foundation trustees and the first two presidents of the bank, Sir Edwin Bate and (subsequently) Sir Peter Tait retired from the board.

A matter of saying “Goodnight to two knights,” quipped Sir Edwin, at a board meeting. Deserved tributes were paid to the work of both men in establishing the bank during its foundation years. Sir Edwin had been national president of Savings Bank movement in 1964-66.

Sir Hallam Dowling died in 1983 while in office as a trustee. He had been the bank’s third president and had proved an influential speaker at the annual conferences of the

Photo caption – The Governor-General Sir Keith Holyoake presided at the opening of the Broadlands Mall in Napier in 1976 and afterwards posed for this picture with (from left) R. J. Burns, Ewing Robertson (the bank’s general manager) and Des Lanigan, manager of the first branch to operate in Napier.

considering that an essential part of their job was becoming involved with their communities, or learning to evaluate the business skills of their customers, of learning on an immediate basis how to collate, analyse, plan, accommodate, anticipate and advise. They and their staffs wrote the business. They were – and are – outfield salesmen and saleswoman. All banking honour to them.

A new face appeared in the bank’s hierachy [hierarchy] with the appointment of Neville Brown as deputy general manager in 1986, after 17 year service with the Post Office in Wellington. It was a newly created position. He had been chief auditor of the Post Office Savings Bank and had helped to establish the Post Office’s money marketing operations at the end of 1984 after the new Government relaxed regulations. He finds more similarities than difference between Post Office and trustee banks.

Still at the executive top is Ewing Robertson, the officer who opened the Gisborne

Photo caption – Art Deco Napier captured by artist Christopher Vine on this mural now a focal point in the main reception area of the Napier Public Library. The artist is shown at work on the mural.

[Photo of Trust Bank Eastern and Building, Hastings]

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Selected pages from “First People Then Banking – The Story of Trust Bank Eastern & Central 1962-1987” by Geoff Conly, with particular reference to Ewing Robertson

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Trust Bank Eastern and Central

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