A Business Revolution

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AUCKLAND, Today: Hugh Rennie’s long-awaited book on the history of a Kiwi financial institution – The first two decades of National Business Review, 1970-1991 – is out now.

It was launched by former PM Sir Geoffrey Palmer at an Italian restaurant in the ground floor of the one-time NBR building in Blair St, Wellington.

NBR – an innovative, under-resourced, but courageous fortnightly tabloid – had a small initial impact, but within five years became a major weekly publication.

Grouped around it were other magazines, books, and newsletters.

Launched by young entrepreneur Henry Newrick, it had editorial input from many of the young journalists of the 1960s.

NBR became essential business reading while opening a new market to advertisers and setting new standards in journalism.

This memoir, written by one of its founding writers (and the lawyer who fought off legal attacks for many years), is much more than just the story of NBR. It discusses major changes in New Zealand society, politics, the economy, and investigative journalism.

It chronicles the way in which a few young New Zealanders with ambition but no money, grew an enterprise which attracted a succession of owners, gained millions in value, and led to its Fairfax-funded launch as a daily paper in1987 which lasted four years.

NBR’s editors – from Barrie Saunders, Reg Birchfield, Ian F Grant, Bob Edlin, Nevil Gibson, Colin James, Jim Eagles, and Warren Berryman – set new standards for business reporting.”

The early lives of many who are now well-known included work for NBR. Its editors – from Barrie Saunders, Reg Birchfield and Ian F Grant, to Bob Edlin, Nevil Gibson, Colin James, Jim Eagles, and Warren Berryman – set new standards for business reporting.

The two decades end with the departure of the last of the innovators, the defeat of Fairfax’s bold plans, and its sale to a new owner.

NBR returned to a weekly paper which lasted almost another 30 years in print and is still published online.

About Hugh Rennie
The author is a Wellington lawyer, company director, and a writer who was one of NBR’s initial editorial team, stepping aside for Barrie Saunders who became the first editor, but remaining involved to the end of the second decade.

He has drawn on his own knowledge of the early years, the recollections of others, surviving company records, and private sources.

Much of the information has not been published previously, and the book is extensively illustrated with contemporary material.

The book is in softcover format, lavishly illustrated, with 206 pages, and a four-colour cover (with flaps). The publisher is Fraser Books, Masterton, and it’s distributed by Nationwide Book Distributors, North Canterbury.

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