General Accident Insurance Asia Ltd
The company was founded in 1859, in Auckland, as the New Zealand Insurance Company by local lawyer, Thomas Russell. It was established to transact fire and marine business and was the first underwriting company in the colony of New Zealand.
On 21 May 1859, the company held its first meeting, which was attended by many of Auckland's leading merchants and professional men. NZI was established by deed of settlement on 3 June 1859 as the New Zealand Insurance Company and later incorporated under articles of association in 1862.
According to an early advertisement, the company offered: "insurance from loss or damage by fire upon Houses and other Buildings, Goods, Wares, Merchandise and Manufactures, and Farming Stock of every description. The company will also take Marine risks both on Coasting and Foreign Trade".
The company's first policy was to insure the Kiwi, a small schooner, for £200. Soon after, it established its own fire brigade, a 28-man team under Captain Daldy, who was also one of the original directors. By 1897, the company was offering accident and indemnity insurance and, by 1905, had added plate glass and burglary to its business. On 1 August 1906, the company was registered in Auckland as The New Zealand Insurance Company Ltd (company number 40123).
In 1910, the company issued its first motor policy and, in 1916, a trustee department was set up offering all classes of executor and agency business. In 1934, business was extended to offer aviation insurance. In 1965, in partnership with the Eagle Star and Welfare Insurance Company, the company formed the Insurance Company of East Africa to handle business in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania.
In 1981, the company merged with the South British Insurance Company Ltd and a new parent company, the New Zealand South British Group Ltd, was formed.
The group changed its name to NZI Corporation Ltd in May 1984 and was acquired by General Accident Fire & Life Assurance Corporation Ltd in 1989. The New Zealand Insurance Company Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of NZI Corporation Ltd, changed its name on 1 November 1996 to General Accident Insurance Asia Ltd.
In 2001, the company was disposed of by CGNU plc (later Aviva plc) and, on 30 June of the same year, was struck off the New Zealand Register of Companies.
|1859||The company is established as a fire and marine insurer|
|1862||Incorporated under articles of association|
|1906||Registered in Auckland as The New Zealand Insurance Company|
|1965||Forms the Insurance Company of East Africa in partnership with the Eagle Star and Welfare Insurance Company|
|1981||Merges with the South British Insurance Company and forms the New Zealand South British Group|
|1984||The New Zealand South British Group changes its name to NZI Corporation Ltd|
|1989||Acquired by General Accident Fire & Life Assurance Corporation|
|1996||Name changes to General Accident Insurance Asia Ltd|
|2001||The company is disposed of by CGNU plc and struck off the New Zealand Register of Companies|
Did you know...?
- Company founder Thomas Russell also established the New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company and was chairman of the Waihi Goldmining Company.
- Thomas Henderson, the first chairman, was one of the early colonial settlers and built the Commercial Hotel, then the most prestigious building in Auckland.
- Captain Daldy was captain of the Bolina when she carried the first cargo of New Zealand produce to Britain. He went on to found the South British Insurance Company.
- The company's own office was not insured when fire broke out there on May 27 1860.
- On January 22 1872. a disgruntled former tenant, Cyrus Haley, attacked the home of director and founder Thomas Russell. Eight revolver shots were fired through the windows at Russell's wife and his seven children.
- In November 1974, the company was involved in a tragic sea disaster when a fire on the emigrant ship Cospatrick lead to the death of all but three of her passengers.
- The company's San Francisco office was destroyed by the 1906 earthquake. The earthquake cost the company $2.5 million in total.
- The company was involved in the loss of the Andrea Doria in 1956. The Italian luxury liner collided with the Swedish ship Stockholm off Nantucket Island near New York. The liner was insured for $12 million, a figure that represented the biggest single loss in marine insurance to that date.
Subsidiaries and constituents*
|by 1879 - 1905||New Zealand Accident Insurance Company|
|1921||Eagle Star and British Dominions Insurance Company (New Zealand fire and accident business)|
|1912 - 1943||United Scottish Insurance Company (wholly owned from 1959)|
|1947||El Plata (Argentina)|
|by 1915 - 1963||Fire Accident Marine Earthquake Insurance Company of Wellington (FAME)(later renamed New Zealand Life and General Company Ltd)|
|1849 - 1967||Victoria Insurance Company Ltd|
|1906 - 1967||New Zealand Investment Mortgage and Deposit Company Ltd|
|1939 - 1967||Southern Cross Assurance Company Ltd (became New Zealand Victoria Life Ltd in 1963)|
|1972||NZI Finance Ltd (established with HSBC)|
* Please note the first date given is the date of the establishment of the company and the second date is the date the company was acquired or became a subsidiary. Where only one date is given the company was established as a subsidiary of the parent company. Where one date is preceded by a hyphen the date of the establishment of the company is not known.
Head office premises
|1859 - c1860||Fraser's Buildings, corner of Queen Street and Shortland Street, Auckland|
|1860 - c1870||Lower Queen Street, Auckland|
|1870 -||Queen Street, opposite Fort Street, Auckland (new building on site from 1918)|
Staff and officials
|1859 - 1860||William Hansard|
|1860 - 1891||George Patrick Pierce|
|1891 - 1895||Warwick Weston|
|1895 - 1896||Edgar W Walker (acting)|
|1896 - 1903||David Craig|
|1903 - 1919||J Buttle|
|1919 - 1929||K P Kissling|
|1929 - 1944||A I Johns|
|1944 - 1951||F R Baker|
|1951 - 1953||A D Anderson|
|1953 - 1961||W J O'Brien|
|1961 - 1980 at least||Donald Hare|
- Thomas Henderson
- David Graham
- Samuel Browning
- William T Buckland
- William Connell
- Hugh Coolahan
- William Crush Daldy
- Walter K Graham
- John S Oliver
- Thomas Russell
- C J Stone
- James Williamson
- William C Wilson
Home branches and agencies
- Auckland Province (1860)
- South Island (1860)
- Napier (1861)
- Christchurch (1861)
- Dunedin (1861)
- New Plymouth (1861)
- Wellington (1861)
- Invercargill (1862)
- Oamaru (1862)
- Timaru (1862)
- Wanganui (1862)
Overseas branches and agencies
- London (1861)
- Sydney, Australia (1860s)
- Melbourne, Australia (1860s)
- Adelaide, Australia (1860s)
- Brisbane, Australia (1860s)
- Perth, Australia (1860s)
- Launceston, Tasmania (1860s)
- Honolulu, United States (1874)
- San Francisco, United States (1875)
- Hobart, Tasmania (1879)
- Ceylon (Sri Lanka) (1880)
- Calcutta, India (1881)
- Cape Town, South Africa (1881)
- Bombay, India (1881)
- Maryborough, Australia (1881)
- Hong Kong (1882)
- Shanghai, China (1882)
- Kobe, Japan (1883)
- Yokohama, Japan (1883)
- Durban, South Africa (1885)
- Singapore (1885)
- Argentina (1885)
- Rangoon, Myanmar (Burma) (1889)
- Johannesburg, South Africa (1890)
Bold Century, The New Zealand Insurance Company Ltd, 1859 - 1959. The New Zealand Insurance Company, 1959.
In the archives
The Aviva archive contains records relating to the running of New Zealand Insurance between 1908 and 1988. The collection includes correspondence books, head office instructions, policies, information regarding the merger with the South British Insurance Company, coat of arms, grant of arms, share certificates and company registers.
Further information about NZI can be accessed at the National Register of Archives and Manuscripts, the New Zealand National Archives and the Auckland Regional Office (Ref. A786).