Rothmans 1957 – 1977



Rothmans Industries Limited is a group of widely diversified companies in every respect controlled and operated by New Zealanders. The Company is owned by more than six thousand eight hundred shareholder members who have subscribed capital in excess of eleven million dollars. The board is responsible for assets amounting to over fifty million dollars.

The Group’s activities were developed upon the tobacco business which was established twenty years ago in Napier. At that time foreign owned companies monopolised the tobacco industry in New Zealand. Today Rothmans stands the undisputed leader in this field.

However, tobacco is by no means the only interest of the Rothmans Industries Group. Other very different enterprises, some large, some smaller, have been established or acquired over the years. The Company’s policy is one of continued expansion into industries with potential for profitable sales growth within New Zealand and abroad.

This publication showing the Company’s activities today has been prepared as a tribute to the shareholders and staff whose faith and endeavours have made possible achievements both commercially and in a community sense, of which they can justifiably feel proud.

Rothmans Tobacco

Rothmans Tobacco Company Limited was established in 1956 to acquire the National Tobacco Company of Napier. National was the last of the New Zealand owned tobacco manufacturers and though the company had retained a stake in the diminishing market for rolling tobaccos, it had found it impossible to gain a sufficient share of the rapidly growing machine-made cigarette market to remain an economic unit in the industry.

With the help of equipment, skills and a foundation stock of the finest matured Virginia tobaccos provided by Rothmans in London, who were partners with the enterprise, the Company set out to win a share of the cigarette business from the foreign companies operating in New Zealand.

Rothmans first product, introduced in 1957, was the well-known Pall Mall Plain cigarette which had long been widely exported from London to many countries throughout the world including New Zealand. But there was a difference. Rothmans Pall Mall cigarettes manufactured in New Zealand were introduced in the then new king size length. The move to king size had begun and Rothmans were the leaders. The idea of an extra measure of good tobacco and smoother smoking naturally appealed.

During the next 20 years advanced technology and undoubted leadership in research were to become synonymous with the Rothmans name in New Zealand.

In other parts of the world the demand for filter tipped cigarettes and the swing to king size was gaining momentum. The clear choice for the Company’s next offering was Rothmans King Size Filter, already a major international filter brand. Pall Mall had been introduced in the American type paper cuppack when the established brands of shorter cigarettes were still in the old shell-and-slide packing.

Photo caption – Today mobile harvesters are used for picking tobacco. The plant ripens from the base. First picked are the bottom leaves (lugs) followed by the central section (cutters and fine leaf) then the top leaves (tips).

Photo Caption – (Left inset) Leaf condition plant – Motueka.

Photo Caption – The time for harvesting each section of the plant is critical. Skill and experience are necessary to decide when the leaf is ready.

Rothmans King Size Filter were presented in the new hingelid box which was to revolutionise cigarette packaging throughout the world during the next decade. Next followed Peter Stuyvesant, made under licence for Rothmans associates, the American Cigarette Company; an exclusive blend of matured kiln and air dried Virginia tobaccos with a very large following in Europe, and in 1966 a hingelid packing of a filter tipped version of Pall Mall to provide a familiar alternative for those Pall Mall Plain smokers wishing to follow the trend to filter cigarettes.

Photo Caption – Stringent control of temperature is vital during the curing process. This calls for continuous attention while the leaves change colour and are dried in farm kilns.

An extensive range of cigarette brands and tobaccos blended for different palates was introduced in the ensuing years. Manufacturing and marketing agreements with other world famous tobacco houses were concluded. Some of these celebrated names had commenced business in the 18th century and all of them have been renowned for generations as purveyors of tobacco products of outstanding quality and world wide reputation. Rothmans are proud to include a tribute to these esteemed friends and associates in this record of achievement.

Photo Caption – Tobacco auction in Richmond, Virginia. Buyers from all over the world compete for the many different tobacco styles needed for their blends.

Photo Caption – The local crop is conditioned at the Company’s Motueka plant before entering the bonded warehouses where it will mature for several years.

Photo Caption – At the Napier factory the Company’s appraisers inspect and evaluate matured leaf stocks before blending.

Photo Caption – Blended cigarette tobacco is cut to the finest tolerances prior to transfer to cigarette making machines.

Photo Caption – High speed making machines form a continuous cigarette rod at speeds up to 20 kilometres an hour.

Today we offer the largest range of smoking products in New Zealand and it is one of the most comprehensive in the world.

Rothmans operates two plants in New Zealand – a leaf conditioning factory at Motueka to handle the crop from over 200 tobacco farmers who contract regularly with the Company, and the main manufacturing plant at Napier.

Behind the Company’s growth lie the many skills of a highly trained staff dedicated to the production of cigarettes and other tobacco products as nearly perfect as is possible to achieve.

Rothmans claim, ‘the best tobacco money can buy’ is no idle catch-phrase. Each year our buyers travel to the great tobacco auctions in the United States to purchase the finest Virginia tobaccos procurable, regardless of price. These rich matured aromatic tobaccos form the basis of every Rothmans cigarette. Tobacco, like any other product of nature, varies in style and texture from season to season. It then becomes the blender’s task to achieve consistent smoking qualities for each brand year after year. His is work which call for a very special skill and the ‘feel’ which comes only with years of experience.

In a modern cigarette factory the manufacture of cigarettes from blended leaf is highly

Photo Caption – Filter rods tailored to the different specifications required for each brand are manufactured from cellulose acetate tow.

Photo Caption – Highly sophisticated machines attach filter plugs and cork tipping at speeds of over 4,000 cigarettes a minute.

automated. The cut leaf is fed to high speed making and filter assembly machines. Each individual cigarette is visually checked for physical perfection during the final condition before packing under the familiar Rothmans labels, recognised by discerning smokers as their guarantee of quality.

The Napier Research and Development Laboratory is furnished with the most up-to-date specialised equipment essential for the control of quality at every stage of manufacture.

Photo Caption – The AccuRay 1000 computer system continuously monitors the operation of all making and filter assembling machines. This equipment provides quality control personnel with an immediate check on every aspect of machine efficiency ensuring the highest standard of cigarette quality.

Photo Caption – Administration and Research – Napier

Photo Caption – Routine moisture testing by electronic equipment is essential in maintaining the superior smoking qualities of fine tobaccos.

Photo Caption – Preparation of tobaccos for the continuing advanced research on low tar cigarettes at Rothmans Research Laboratory.

Photo Captions –

1. A battery of high speed cigarette making machines at the Company’s Napier plant.

2. The latest equipment packs over 4,000 cigarettes a minute into the familiar hingelid boxes.

3. Express despatch ensures that cigarettes reach smokers in factory fresh condition.

4. Close co-operation with Rothmans many suppliers ensures a consistently high quality of all materials.

5. Advance planning keeps pace with constantly changing trends and developments.

6. Design and package development studio.

7. The Company is noted for its attractive advertising and sales promotional material.

Continuing research plays a vital part in a progressive tobacco business and Rothmans are world leaders. A team of highly qualified tobacco chemists and technicians work exclusively on the development of new technology and methods which will be needed to produce cigarettes and other tobacco products to meet the smoking preferences of tomorrow.

Rothmans dedication to advanced research has produced many firsts in the New Zealand market and is a corner stone of the Company’s strength and progress.

The best of products call for the best of marketing. The Company’s 16,000 wholesale and retail clients throughout New Zealand are serviced regularly by a large team of salesmen and saleswomen. Rothmans trained in every

Photo Caption – Over the years Rothmans Mobile Special Events Centres have assisted many organisations in a wide variety of outdoor events.

aspect of customer service and sales promotion. They are supported by specialists in in-store display and an advertising staff skilled in the specific requirements of the highly competitive tobacco business. This organisation, devoted to providing a total service to the Company’s many clients, is recognised as probably the most effective marketing group in any field in New Zealand. Rothmans brands have long enjoyed a substantial sale in many markets in the Pacific area and the establishment of a cigarette and tobacco factory in Apia, Western Samoa, in partnership with the Government of that Country, is indicative of the confidence with which the Company views the future of the region and the development of trading opportunities.

Photo Caption – The Company enjoys a substantial export business to a number of important markets in the Pacific region.

Photo Caption – Regular servicing contact is maintained by our sales representatives with all 16,000 tobacco retailers throughout New Zealand.


The manufacture of fine cigars calls for an intimate knowledge of fine and exotic tobaccos together with especial craftsmanship and a wealth of experience.

While the manufacture of fine cigarettes is one of the most highly automated of all industries, the production of other tobacco products demands a much more leisurely approach. Famous brands of pipe and rolling tobaccos are prepared strictly according to recipes and by methods which have changed little in the past 200 years.

Special styles of tobacco leaf are brought together from many countries. Rare and very costly spices and other natural flavourings mingle with honey, molasses and tinctures of fruits and flowers, with here a touch of Jamaica rum and there a hint of Cognac added with great care to produce the distinctive smoking qualities associated with each brand.

If the product is a cut plug (flake pipe) tobacco, it has yet to be steamed and pressed into ‘cakes’ before final cutting. This can take another day or even two in machinery almost identical to that in use 100 years ago. Much skill and loving care is needed in this final process as in every stage of the manufacture of these masterpieces of the tobacco blender’s craft.

Photo Caption – Hand blending Murrays Scotch Plaid pipe mixture.

Photo Caption – Removing pressed cakes of Erinmore Flake pipe tobacco prior to slicing and packing.

Photo Caption – New Zealand’s largest selling cigarette rolling tobacco – Pocket Edition – sealed for freshness in the new pouch packing.

Rothmans International Associates

Over the years the Company has entered into manufacturing and sales arrangements with a number of the world’s most respected tobacco houses.

These associations ensure the availability in New Zealand of well known international brands which complement Rothmans own range. We are conscious of our obligations to these overseas friends and are honoured to represent their interests in New Zealand.

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company Limited


More than a century ago Richard Reynolds came to North Carolina – the heart of tobacco land – with horse and wagon. He travelled the streets of Winston selling plug chewing tobacco and sought out customers both in the street and in their homes. In 1875 he established R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. Today R.J. Reynolds is the largest tobacco company in the United States with factories and interests around the world. Reynolds most popular and famous cigarettes, Camel, Winston and Salem, are sold in more than 140 countries.

Douwe Egberts Royal Factories


Douwe Egberts Royal Factories were founded in 1753 by Egbert Douwes. Today among the largest tobacco manufacturers in the world, their renowned Amphora pipe tobaccos and Drum cigarette rolling tobacco have been largely responsible for the high reputation Dutch smoking tobaccos have maintained in all corners of the globe for over 200 years.

Alfred Dunhill Limited


On July 7th 1907 Alfred Dunhill opened a small tobacconist shop in London at 31a Duke Street in the Parish of St James’s.

Mr Dunhill was a perfectionist. His exquisite handmade briar pipes, custom blended smoking tobaccos, Virginia cigarettes and smokers’ requisites quickly achieved an enviable reputation by personal recommendation. Royal patronage was granted in 1921 and the shop attracted the custom of many Royal families and other distinguished and discriminating clients. Seventy years of devotion to the achievement of excellence has established the Dunhill name as an international symbol of ultimate quality.

Today the prestigious Dunhill shops in fifteen great cities throughout the world, duty free outlets and selected authorised stockists in 125 countries continue to offer these exclusive products which represent the highest standard in everything to do with smoking.

Photo Caption – Head Office and showroom, Duke Street, St James’s.

Photo Caption – 18ct gold lighter and shell briar pipe with matching gold mounting valued at $5,500.



For centuries the Dutch have been recognised by connoisseurs as leaders in the manufacture of mild cigars. Their secret was the use of light Java and Sumatra tobaccos shipped from the Dutch colonies in Indonesia which developed a distinctive aromatic quality on the long voyage home. Pre-eminent among Dutch cigars is the Schimmelpenninck label, named after an early Governor of Holland. Internationally known for their mildness and unique flavour. Schimmelpenninck are rightfully proud of their well earned reputation as Holland’s most famous cigars.

Computronics Limited


Computronics Limited was established in 1971 to provide a complete data processing service for Rothmans Group Companies. The original installation was in Napier. It was soon apparent that there was a demand for a systems development and bureau processing service in the East Coast area which Computronics computer hardware and specialist staff were equipped to handle. The Company’s foundation clients were satisfied with the service and as a result of personal recommendation enquiries were received from organisations throughout New Zealand,

Photo Caption – Some of the Computronics many valued clients.

not only for computer service but also for access to a number of special systems developed by Computronics. A second computer was installed to cope with the increased work and within a year both were fully committed.

Success in the data processing business calls for an amalgam of especial skills, total devotion to clients’ problems and undoubted integrity. A reputation in this highly technical and demanding field is not easily won. After only three years the standard of service and the personal commitment to clients’ needs provided by the Computronics team had become widely known in the larger centres. Approaches were being received and business written for the development of systems, data processing and computer management from industrial, distribution, financial and retail organisations beyond the capacity of the Napier office. To meet these demands a computer installation was established in Auckland in 1975 and the head office of the Company moved to Auckland a year later.

Today clients outside Rothmans Group Companies account for over 60% of the growing business handled by Computronics and the company is now marketing systems abroad.

Photo Caption – Above – High speed tape handling units. Below – Keying data for processing.

Photo Caption – Computer installation – Napier

New Zealand Laminations Limited


Photo Caption – High speed lacquering and laminating plant.

New Zealand Laminations Limited was established in 1973 to manufacture metal foil and paper laminates for the tobacco industry. These and similar laminates used for the protective wrapping of many consumer products had previously been imported.

Laminates of very light gauge are required for this type of packing and production of the material calls for highly specialised equipment capable of working to stringent tolerances.

Within a year the local and export demand for the Company’s standard products and enquiries for many special purpose laminates and coatings had proved the need for increased manufacturing capacity. Additional high speed laminating and lacquering machinery was installed and gold and coloured foils previously imported became a New Zealand export.

Photo Caption – An export order of laminated bobbins prepared for shipment.

Photo Caption – Printing Hall showing 4 station gravure press.

To further complement the rapidly growing export business, a four colour Rotogravure printing press has recently been installed. Working from reel stock, the Rotogravure process is extremely versatile and is particularly suited to the Company’s requirements for long printing runs to exacting standards on many different types of material.

As in all other Group Companies, research plays an essential role in the development of new products and New Zealand Laminations Limited maintains its own laboratory with every facility for this vital work.

This progressive enterprise is today recognised as a major supplier of special purpose packing materials to the New Zealand confectionery, dairy and tobacco industries and has earned a reputation in its expanding markets abroad for the consistent quality of its wide range of products.

Industrial Electronics and Automation Limited


Photo Caption – Final circuitry check of an AC motor speed controller.

This Napier based company, specialising in the development of high technology electronic control and monitoring equipment, was acquired in 1974. A project for the development of a range of electronic variable speed controllers for AC motors has been undertaken with the University of Canterbury Department of Electrical Engineering and the Development Finance Corporation’s Applied Technology Programme. Several models incorporating features unique in this field are now at the stage of test marketing in New Zealand and abroad.

The Company also developed and produces Autotronic vending equipment, New Zealand’s most advanced and largest selling automatic vending machines.

Photo Caption – 10 hp variable speed controller fitted to a printing press.

Photo Caption – High speed butter packing equipment at Auckland Co-operative Farm Products Limited patting plant fitted with a motor controller.

Photo Caption – New Zealand’s most advanced and largest selling automatic vending machine.

Rothmans Property Investments


The Company’s investments in commercial properties are operated by its wholly owned subsidiary, Cook Holdings (NZ) Limited, and Henderson Square Limited, an equal partnership with the New Zealand Insurance Company. Cook Holdings Investments at present comprise warehouses and shops in Petone and Otara. The Henderson Square Shopping Centre is situated in the heart of Auckland’s Western Suburbs. This 165,000 square foot complex with two acres of car park caters for a large, fast developing area. Opened in 1974, it is today the most successful shopping centre of its kind in the Auckland region.

Photo Caption – Henderson Square – main entrance from car park.

Photo Caption – Modern commercial property in Otara’s Town Centre.

Photo Caption – Henderson Square – interior view of Auckland’s most successful shopping centre.

Corbans Wines Limited


In 1971 an interest was acquired in the highly respected Corbans wine business. With a tradition of over 300 years as wine growers and vintners, the Corban family had established 5 acres of vineyards and New Zealand’s first commercial winery in the Henderson valley in 1902. The demand for Corbans ports and sherries grew and during the next seventy years successive generations developed more land and planted more grapes and earned a reputation as expert vignerons. The famous Riverlea vineyard at Whenuapai and others in the area stand as a tribute to the vision, skill and application of these pioneers of the wine industry in New Zealand.

To cater for a growing interest in New Zealand table wines, two vineyards were developed in the Poverty Bay area of the East Coast of the North Island in the late 1960’s, and a second winery was established in Gisborne in 1971 to

Photo Caption – Corbans Henderson Winery is set in the original vineyards.

handle the grapes from these new plantings.

Over the past six years Rothmans have expanded their equity in the Corban Group to 80%, and the company’s sales have trebled during the same period.

To meet the demand in New Zealand and in export markets for table wines and premium fortified wines, Corbans vineyards in the Henderson Valley in Auckland and at Gisborne have been expanded. A new vineyard has been established at Tolaga Bay and nursery facilities have been enlarged to provide selected virus resistant vinifera stock to plant out the extended acreage and replace older varieties.

In addition Gisborne Winegrowers Limited, a Rothmans subsidiary, has developed two vineyards at Gisborne and today the two companies own over 900 acres under vines. Ruther development continues.

The original winery at Henderson has been substantially enlarged and equipped with all that is modern in grape handling, wine processing and packing machinery. The latest in continuous grape pressing equipment is replacing the older types of pressed used in more expansive days and thermovinification and other advances in technology ensure continuing quality improvement. The Gisborne winery has also been expanded.

Supplementing the grapes from the companies’ own vineyards Corbans enjoys the support of a number of substantial contract vine growers harvesting over 500 acres of selected varietal grapes.

Photo Caption – Classical red wines rest for years in small oak casks.

Photo Caption – A grape picking machine.

Photo Caption – The famous Riverlea Estate in Auckland.

Caption – (Left) Corbans Cellarmaster appraises the development of a vintage Claret.

Photo Caption – Delivering freshly pressed juice into stainless holding tanks.

Photo Caption – For perfect clarity wines are given a final polish through micro filters.

Photo Caption – Automatic labelling at speeds up to 10,000 bottles an hour.

Photo Caption – Bank of Willmes grape presses at Gisborne winery.

Photo Caption – Ports and sherries are still matured in tradition soleras.

Photo Caption – A section of the main assembly and dispatch warehouse.

Photo Caption – The Barrelhead wineshop at Corbans Henderson cellars.

Photo Caption – Chilled wine by the glass.

Today hand picking has given way to mechanical harvesters and wooden vessels for fermenting and storage have, where appropriate, been replaced by high capacity stainless steel silos enabling these functions to be carried out under strictly controlled conditions. However, these gleaming giants have their limitation. Classical red wines and premium ports and sherries are still matured ‘on the wood’ in old oak casks.

Research is never ending. From each year’s vintage a new batch of experimental wines is produced – some classical, some blends

Photo Caption – A familiar sight in restaurants throughout New Zealand.

Today hand picking has given way to mechanical harvesters and wooden vessels for fermenting and storage have, where appropriate, been replaced by high capacity stainless steel silos enabling these functions to be carried out under strictly controlled conditions. However, these gleaming giants have their limitation. Classical red wines and premium ports and sherries are still matured ‘on the wood’ in old oak casks.

Research is never ending. From each year’s vintage a new batch of experimental wines is produced – some classical, some blends and some incorporating further improvements to existing well known products. After exhaustive laboratory testing and appraisal by expert panels in New Zealand and in other markets for which they are being developed, some of these wines will be approved for commercial production in subsequent years.

1977 was the 75th anniversary of the establishment of this major wine company and the consistent high quality of the Company’s range was demonstrated at the most recent wine judging by the New Zealand Wine Institute when Corbans were the most successful exhibitor receiving 30 medals and awards from 31 entries.

On the eve of this anniversary year the Company was entrusted with the production of the world famous Cinzano range of vermouths in New Zealand. Corbans are particularly proud of this association with this fine old firm of outstanding international reputation.

Tradition, expertise and modern technology provide a sound base for the future of this expanding subsidiary but nothing can replace the personal skills and many ‘rules of thumb’ which are the priceless heritage of the world’s great wine houses.

Robard & Butler Limited


Robard & Butler Limited was established in 1973 as an international wine shipping house. The New Zealand company is engaged in the development and production of fine wines from this country tailored to meet the individual preferences of specific export territories. It is well served by its affiliates throughout the world who supply the continuing detailed information needed to assess and develop export sales opportunities.

Photo Caption – Casks of R & B fine old cream sherry and bottled table wines ready for export.

Peros Limited


Photo Caption – Head office and main factory at Onekawa.

Photo Caption – Final touches to a colourful beach umbrella.

Photo Caption – High speed overlocker.

Photo Caption – The popular Zangenberg umbrella tent.

In 1972 Rothmans acquired a 90% interest in Peros Limited, New Zealand’s largest umbrella manufacturer. Two years later to accommodate the expansion necessary to meet the increased demand for the Company’s products and the introduction of new lines, the business was moved to larger premises, equipped with the latest machinery for this specialised work.

In addition to its own wide range of fashion, outdoor, golf and utility umbrellas, Peros also manufactures the world famous Knirps telescopic umbrellas under licence.

The Company recently concluded an agreement for Australasia for the manufacture and marketing of the revolutionary Zangenberg Continental lightweight tent. Based on an umbrella type frame, Zangenberg hikers’ tents take up no more space than a beach umbrella when furled and can be rigged in under a minute. The tent has attracted widespread enthusiasm from campers and the New Zealand Army is assessing an adapted version for service use.

Other products complementary to the existing range are under development by Peros.



In 1972 Rothmans acquired a half interest in 1,000 acres of freehold land on the Matarangi Peninsula on the Pacific coast of Coromandel. This magnificent property has both ocean beach and harbour frontage with the Mercury Bay Islands a few miles offshore forming an impressive backdrop.

The Company and its partners in the undertaking were determined that the project should do full justice to the beauty of the location and that it should offer a new concept in coastal resort accomodation. Rather than continuous housing along the beach, it was decided there should be separate areas for building surrounded by open space. This would provide variation in settings, the style of building and in the price of properties.

These areas will be developed individually and the conceptual plans include cottages, camping grounds, caravan parks, motels, shops and large areas of communal open space. This ‘cottage cluster’ type of planning provides that each cottage is sited so that it does not face the rear of the neighbouring unit. Each building is to be single storey and designed to give some architectural unity to the whole cluster. Extensive landscaping creates a pleasant living environment and ensures that the buildings blend with trees. The Company records its appreciation to the Public Works Department and the Local Authorities for their enthusiasm and co-operation in the planning of this large and unique project which will offer the opportunity to obtain holiday accommodation at prices suited to a wide cross-section of families.

Matarangi is by far New Zealand’s largest coastal resort development and it is intended that it will also be the most attractive.

Responsibility to the community

Support from the community has been a very significant factor in Rothmans development in New Zealand. In acknowledgement of this the Rothmans Foundation was established in 1962 to provide the opportunity for the Company to express its awareness of the responsibility it bears towards all New Zealanders.

Sport was selected as the prime area for this participation in community affairs. The particular intention was to encourage New Zealand youth towards the fullest involvement in sport and to assist in developing the highest possible standards. Love of sport is a national heritage in this country and has always been an important factor in the shaping of the national character. It was destined to play an increasingly important part in the life of today’s young people and was therefore an ideal medium through which to direct the Company’s support.

The initial organisation was centred around the outstanding personalities of Peter Snell, Arthur Lydiard, Bert Sutcliffe and Don Clarke. These dedicated and nationally famous sportsmen worked with young people throughout the country coaching and encouraging and above all instilling a love of challenge and respect for good sportsmanship. Great figures like the late Ken Simich, John Morris, Colonel Frank Rennie, the late Con Voss, Bill Bromley, Martin Horton, John Flett, Marion Smith, Ces Mountford, Bill Dyson, Barrie Truman, ‘Rusty’ Robertson, Roy Hope and many others have also contributed their wealth of experience and boundless enthusiasm to this unique community service.

Over the years the Foundation has given its support to more than 60 sporting codes and other spheres of community activity. Rothmans are proud to have been the pioneers in this area of involvement.


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Rothmans 1957 - 1977

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