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History of the Treasury

Page updated 7 Mar 2014

Established in 1840, the Treasury is one of New Zealand’s oldest institutions.

Initially the Treasury consisted of just a few officials responsible for managing the Government’s day-to-day financial affairs. Today the Treasury employs over 300 people, is the Government’s lead advisor on economic and financial policy, and has the overall vision of helping governments achieve higher living standards for New Zealanders.

A full history of the Treasury, Treasury: The New Zealand Treasury 1840-2000 was written by Dr Malcolm McKinnon and published in 2003. The book won the 2004 ARANZ Ian Wards Prize, which honours former Chief Historian Ian Wards, and recognises an outstanding piece of published writing.

“This is the official commissioned history of New Zealand's most important department of state, founded with the nation in 1840. Treasury tells a rich and textured story: it shows the perennial jousting of officials with ministers, the rise and fall of the accountants and the rise and rise of the economists. It shows the impact of changes in the political scene and of events in the world economy. Not always grey bureaucrats, colourful figures stride the pages: one secretary was a representative rugby player, one was a better politician than the politicians, one took beginner's ballet classes through an especially stressful year. But this is a serious and fascinating study at the heart of the country's history taking the story through the controversial 'rogernomics' years up to 2000. Long overdue, this will be essential reading for anyone interested in the complex interplay between government, economy and people”.

Treasury: The New Zealand Treasury 1840-2000 is published by Auckland University Press in association with the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. More information on the Treasury history is available from Auckland University Press.

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