Savings and credit societies have been in existence in New Zealand for over 120 years. A number of small independent Credit Unions were established in the early 19th century and the turn of the century but their size and influence were limited.
In the 1950s, Father Marion Ganey, who had been active in promoting Credit Unions in the South Pacific, met with Tom Mitchell, a Catholic layman of Hamilton and Father H. Boyd of Matata. Both were so impressed with Father M Ganey’s ideas and resulted in two parish Credit Unions being established. St Joseph’s (Matata) Credit Union in the Bay of Plenty and St Mary’s Parish Credit Union in Hamilton.
In 1964 the League had nine-member Credit Unions. Colin Smith held the position of Managing Director until his death in 1986. He travelled around New Zealand, promoting parish and industrial-employee Credit Unions. In 1967 he set up direct links with CUNA. the New Zealand credit union movement swept the nation and started to pop up all around the country.
By the early 1980s New Zealand had several hundred Credit Unions. This led to government intervention as regulations were then set in place to enforce increase capital reserves and liquidity levels As the Movement matured, the smaller of these began to amalgamate by merger or transfer of engagements. In 1989, the New Zealand Credit Union League changed its name to the New Zealand Association of Credit Unions (NZACU). From a peak of over three hundred Credit Unions in New Zealand, the others are independent.
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