Land companies played an important part in the agricultural development of New Zealand during the last quarter of the nineteenth century, although few of them were successful financially. Experience in North America had shown that land in areas being opened up for settlement, provided a degree of political and economic stability had been attained, was an extremely profitable investment. These companies were, for the most part, far from being merely speculative enterprises, for their objective was to develop land to the stage where it could be successfully settled by the individual farmer. The companies that were established with the idea of buying and developing land must be distinguished from those organisations, such as the Bank of New Zealand, which became large landowners by default, having advanced money over-generously to land company clients. When these found themselves in difficulties, the financial house had to take over the security.