Where My History Research Is At: A Business Background

<>These are some notes I prepared for a session on 15 August 2013 to students doing a Bachelor of Applied Management (Business Heritage, Culture and Sustainability section) of the Christchurch, Northland, Otago and Waikato Polytechs.  


Keywords: Business & Finance; Political Economy & History;


To begin provocatively. Last week the government announced a $30m subsidy to the Tiwai aluminum smelter. Old hands will recognise that is exactly the sort of intervention which Muldoon used to do. Before we have a political reaction – indignation or support – we need to think about why the repeat of this behaviour.


While I have been writing a history of New Zealand from an economic perspective I have become focussed on Muldoon’s economic management as not an aberration but as an extreme form of the intimate relation between the state and business which has characterised the whole of post-European arrival economic development. (There is a lot in the book on Maori development too.) For instance, when in 1823 Charles de Thierry acquired, he thought, 40,000 acres in Northland he requested British protection. (The Colonial Office rebuffed him.)


Business functions nowhere in the world without some state involvement. The issue is how to get the right balance, something which has preoccupied me throughout my professional life.


For preparation I am going to list a number of Listener economic columns I have written over the last two years on this theme. If you do not have access to The Listener website or a hard copy, I describe an alternative below.


http://www.listener.co.nz/current-affairs/economy/the-fine-line-between-gambling-and-investment/ (6 August 2012)

http://www.listener.co.nz/current-affairs/economy/do-we-deserve-to-host-the-rwc/ (3 September 2012)

http://www.listener.co.nz/current-affairs/economy/infrastructure-problems-in-new-zealand/ (17 September 2012)

http://www.listener.co.nz/current-affairs/economy/loose-regulations-sink-economies-and-buildings/ (14 October 2012)

http://www.listener.co.nz/current-affairs/economy/government-not-paying-attention-to/ (19 January 2012)

http://www.listener.co.nz/current-affairs/economy/the-future-of-the-south-island/ (18 February 2012)

http://www.listener.co.nz/current-affairs/economy/breaking-away-from-light-regulation-in-new-Zealand/ (23 March 2012)

http://www.listener.co.nz/current-affairs/economy/botching-privatisation-again/ (14 April 2012)

http://www.listener.co.nz/current-affairs/economy/nz-governments-influence-on-economic-growth/ (26 April 2012)

http://www.listener.co.nz/current-affairs/economy/convention-centres-and-public-subsidy/ (26 May 2012)

http://www.listener.co.nz/current-affairs/economy/water-rights-and-ownership/ (4 August 2012)

http://www.listener.co.nz/current-affairs/economy/economy-soe-bonus-scheme-the-pms-priority/ (18 August 2012)

http://www.listener.co.nz/current-affairs/economy/leaky-legislation/ (15 September 2013)

http://www.listener.co.nz/current-affairs/economy/son-of-think-big/ (7 March 2013)

http://www.listener.co.nz/current-affairs/economy/sky-lark/ (23 March 2013)

http://www.listener.co.nz/current-affairs/economy/partial-sale-of-the-century/ (4 April 2013)

http://www.listener.co.nz/current-affairs/economy/competitive-advantage/ (16 May 2013)


Each of these columns is on my website (www.eastonbh.ac.nz) – albeit in a less attractive form. Use the key words to find them. For more, look at the ‘Business & Finance’ and the ‘Political Economy & History’ categories.  The following might be of particular interest:






See you all Thursday,


Brian (Economic and Social Trust On New Zealand)