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Papers of Sir Frank Holmes

 Fonds — Multiple Containers
Identifier: holf

Scope and Contents

Sir Frank has selected and deposited these papers in fifteen separate accessions over 2004-2009. The collection consists of working papers from throughout his career; there are no family papers and few photographs. There are no papers from the companies for which he has been a Director. Transcripts of interviews are generally restricted and access will require Sir Frank's written permission.

The papers do not include either Sir Frank's speeches as Chair of the NZ Planning Council 1977-1982, or his papers as a Director of the Hugo Consulting Group, which are deposited with the Alexander Turnbull Library (the latter has an access restriction).


  • 1933-2006

Conditions Governing Use

Sir Frank has specified that these papers are available under 'Chatham House' rules. That is, for papers not originating with Sir Frank himself, "participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed" (Wikipedia definition).

Biographical / Historical


Economics: Lecturer, 1952-54; Senior lecturer, 1954-59; Macarthy Professor, 1959-1967; Resigned, 1967; Professor (Money, Banking & Finance), 1970; Resigned, 1977; Lecturer (hon.), 1977-82; Visiting Professor, 1983; Emeritus professor, 1985.


Frank Wakefield Holmes was born in Oamaru on 8 September 1924 and educated in Dunedin and Oamaru. He was dux of Waitaki Boys Junior High School in 1936, and of King’s High School, Dunedin, in 1941. He attended Otago University for a year in 1942, studying Latin, Greek, French and English, before joining the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) in December 1942 and spending the remainder of the war fighting in Bougainville and the Solomon Islands (30, 31 and 24 Squadrons).

After the war, Frank returned to Otago University to study Economics, Anthropology, Psychology and (extramurally from Canterbury University) Political Science. He was elected President of the Arts Faculty Association and later co-opted as Business Manager for the Otago University Students Association, becoming President of the Otago University Students Association in 1947. He also became engaged to the Vice-President of the Association, Nola Ruth Ross, and they married at the end of the year.

In 1948, Nola took up a job at the Vocational Guidance Centre in Auckland, and Frank continued his education at Auckland University (Economics and Political Science) and graduated B.A. He was awarded the Ex-servicemen's Senior Scholarship.

In 1949 Frank was one of three new appointments to establish the Economics Division of the Prime Minister’s and External Affairs Department, in Wellington. He remained in this position until 1952, at the same time completing his MA Degree with first class honours. During these years the couple had two sons (Ross, born in 1949 and David, born in 1952).

From 1952 to 1967, Frank pursued an academic career at Victoria University College (from 1963, Victoria University of Wellington). He was appointed in 1952 as a Lecturer in the Economics Department under Horace Belshaw, and began an extensive list of publications (see bibliography). In 1954, he was a delegate to a Commonwealth Relations Conference in Pakistan, but the other New Zealand delegates, Bob McGechan and Winston Monk, were killed in an air crash on their way to the conference. Papers from a proposed joint publication with Winston Monk, which as a result of this tragedy never eventuated, are included in the Holmes Papers.

Frank became Senior Lecturer in 1954, and began extensive involvement in the wider community. He was an adviser to the Royal Commission on Monetary, Banking and Credit Systems from 1955-56, an economic consultant to the Bank of New Zealand 1956-58 and 1964-67, joint secretary of the Committee on New Zealand Universities in 1959 (the Parry Committee), British Commonwealth Fellow to the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London in 1957, and a member of the Round Table chaired by Sir John Ilott.

In 1959, Frank became Macarthy Professor of Economics and Dean of the Commerce Faculty at Victoria University. He continued in many professional and broader roles, being appointed a JP in 1960, elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, New Zealand delegate to the Commonwealth Relations Conference held in New Zealand in 1959, research secretary for the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs in 1960, and involved with professional organisations (vice-president of the Wellington branch of the Economic Society, and President of the New Zealand Association of Economists from 1961). In addition, he was Chairman of the Monetary and Economic Council from 1961-64, helping to establish its reputation as an independent 'economic watchdog' within New Zealand. In 1963-64 he was awarded a Carnegie and Fulbright Fellowship to study in the United States, and was a Visiting Fellow at the Brooking Institution in Washington DC for four months. In 1967, he was elected a life member of the Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association (VUWSA).

Sir Frank led intellectual, business and public debate from the 1960’s onwards on the desirability of closer economic relations with Australia and the gradual opening up of the New Zealand economy to greater competition. During this time he was the President of the Economic Section of the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science (ANZAAS), Chairman of the Central Council of the Economic Society of Australia and New Zealand, and also the Government nominee on the New Zealand Council for Educational Research, 1964-1977. He also participated as a lecturer or director in many courses for bankers in New Zealand and the Asia-Pacific region through the 1960s and 1970s.

In 1967, Frank resigned as Professor of Economics to become Economics and Planning Manager for the Tasman Pulp and Paper Company in Kawerau. In this role, he represented Tasman at the Forestry Development Conference and was Chair of the Forest Industries Working Party. He also represented New Zealand Forest Enterprises before the Australian Tariff Board, concerning access for New Zealand wood pulp to the Australian market.

Frank Holmes returned to Wellington in 1970 when he was appointed Foundation Professor of Money and Finance at Victoria University, and in the same year accepted a second term as Chair of the Monetary and Economic Council (1970-72), and became Chair of the Council for Economic Research (1970-74). During the early 1970's he also chaired the Council for Educational Research, the Advisory Council on Educational Planning and the Educational Development Conference. This load took a toll on his health and necessitated a period away from work. Frank Holmes was created a Knight Bachelor in 1975 for his services to Economics and Education.

He resigned from the University again in 1977, but remained an Honorary Lecturer and later helped establish the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), becoming Emeritus Professor at the Institute in 1985, and chairman from 1989 to 1991.

During the early 1980s Frank took an active role in national planning groups. He helped with the establishment and work of the New Zealand Planning Council as its first Chair from 1977 to 1982, advising the ad hoc Cabinet Committee on National Development during that period. He also acted as a consultant to the Treasury on the National Development Strategy from 1982 to 1984.

He helped organise conferences on Pacific Economic Co-operation and on Pacific Trade and Development, was Chairman of the Committee on Organisation, Auckland Health and Hospital Services, 1986-87, and also became a Director for the following companies:

National Bank of New Zealand 1982- (Chair, South Pacific Merchant Finance Ltd, 1984-88);

Hugo Consulting Group Ltd, 1982-, Chair from 1989-;

Norwich Union Life Insurance Society (NZ), 1983-

Norwich Union Holdings (NZ) Ltd., 1983-,

State Insurance Ltd., 1990-,

Consult NZ Education Services Ltd, 1988-89, and

Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada

In the 1990s Frank helped to establish the Asia 2000 Foundation, now the Asia New Zealand Foundation. He was its first Chairman from 1994 to 1996 and is still an Honorary Advisor for New Zealand. Sir Frank was also Chairman of the Ministry of Health Committee advising on Professional Education (CAPE), and National President of the New Zealand Institute of international Affairs.

In 1995 Sir Frank was appointed to lead a project to produce a history of the National Bank of New Zealand. He began by editing and revising previous work by Gary Hawke and publishing it in 1997 as Volume One. Sir Frank then wrote Volume Two (published in 1999) and Volume Three (published in 2004). In 2005, he is involved in writing a history of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.

Sir Frank has contributed to many academic, government and business realms within New Zealand and honours recognising this include the 1995 NZIER/Qantas Economics Award for Excellence in Economics of Benefit to New Zealand, an Hon. LLD by the University of Otago in 1997, and an Hon. D. Com. from Victoria University in 2004. He was elected one of the inaugural Distinguished Fellows of the NZ Institute of Directors, and elected Honorary Member of the Australia New Zealand Business Council. He is a member of the Australia New Zealand Leadership Council. In 2004 he was elected one of the inaugural Distinguished Fellows of the New Zealand Association of Economists, and in November the same year Victoria University's Institute of Policy Studies held a seminar in his honour titled 'The Visible Hand'.


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Language of Materials



Papers of Sir Frank Holmes, MA (NZ: Victoria), HonDComm (2004), KBE. An economist who has played a significant part in shaping New Zealand's economic and social policy, Sir Frank served in the Air Force, studied at Otago, Auckland and Victoria Universities, and has been a public servant, university lecturer and Professor, consultant, Chairman and director of several companies. He is the author of many publications and has chaired a number of committees advising the government on social, economic and educational policies, and on international affairs.

Administrative Information

All text and images are copyright to Victoria University of Wellington. Enquiries for re-use should be made in the first instance to the J C Beaglehole Room, VUW Library.

Finding aid to the Papers of Sir Frank Holmes
Edited Full Draft
Nicola Frean
14 April 2011
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Finding aid is written inEnglish
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XML EAD edition

Repository Details

Part of the J C Beaglehole Room, Victoria University of Wellington Library Repository

P O Box 3438
Wellington 6140 New Zealand
+64 4 4635681