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Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.


ELLIS, Sir Albert Fuller


Phosphate Commissioner.

A new biography of Ellis, Albert Fuller appears in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography on this site.

Albert Ellis was born at Roma, Queensland, on 28 August 1869, the son of George C. Ellis who subsequently became a farmer in the Auckland district. He was educated at Cambridge District High School and then joined the firm of John T. Arundell and Co., a London company engaged in Pacific trading in phosphates, copra, and pearl shell, as an analyst and prospector. In 1899 he discovered that a large piece of rock used as a doorstop in the company's Sydney office was rich in phosphate. It had come from Nauru. In May 1900 Ellis landed at Ocean Island, found workable deposits of phosphates, and commenced operations within three months. The recovery of phosphates from Nauru itself began, under Ellis's direction, in 1906. By 1911 he was the local director of the phosphate industry, residing in Auckland and visiting the islands as necessary. In 1920 the United Kingdom, Australian, and New Zealand Governments together bought the entire phosphate industry on Ocean and Nauru Islands, and in 1921 Ellis was appointed British Phosphate Commissioner in New Zealand, a position he held until his death.

In 1928 Ellis was awarded the C.M.G., and in 1938 was created a Knight Bachelor. He represented the New Zealand Government at surrender ceremonies held at Ocean and Nauru Islands in 1945, at the end of their occupation by the Japanese.

In 1900 Ellis married Florence Christine, daughter of Andrew Stewart, of Auckland. She died in 1903 and in 1909 he married Nellie Isobel, his first wife's sister. He had one daughter, Joan Izod.

Ellis died in Auckland on 11 July 1951.

by Keith Kennedy Campbell, M.A.(N.Z.), Lecturer in Philosophy, University of Melbourne.

  • Ocean Island and Nauru — their Story, Ellis, A. F. (1935)
  • Evening Post, 12 Jul 1951 (Obit).


Keith Kennedy Campbell, M.A.(N.Z.), Lecturer in Philosophy, University of Melbourne.