Nathaniel Levin, the son of a London Jewish merchant, arrived in Wellington in 1841, aged 22. He almost immediately founded a general merchandising business for the early settlers, selling food, clothing and household necessities, and then expanded to sell goods and provide services to farmers.
When Charles Clifford and Frederick Weld drove sheep around the coast from Wellington to Wairarapa in 1844 to begin large-scale pastoral farming, they were already customers of Levin’s. In that year he did business as far north as New Plymouth and as far south as Akaroa.
Everything but the kitchen sink
When Charles Tripp arrived in Christchurch from England in 1855, he brought a supply of goods that he traded or sold to George Gould. They included £200 worth of boots and shoes, ploughs, tarpaulins, axes, pickaxes, cement, arsenic, brandy, gin, wine, and 15,000 bricks. Boots worth seven shillings in London retailed at 30 shillings in Christchurch.
Pyne Gould Guinness
George Gould emigrated from England to Canterbury in 1850, when large numbers of Canterbury Association-assisted settlers landed in Lyttelton. He set up in business supplying food, clothing and timber, and was soon a financier and exporter of wool for the province’s large sheep stations. Gould became a large landowner, and his sons Joseph and George followed in the business. In 1919 the company merged with two other partnerships to form Pyne Gould Guinness, which was based in Canterbury.
Ready cash was in short supply in early Canterbury. Like many businesses, the stock and station firm Gould & Miles issued cardboard money tokens, which were redeemable on demand, to help the shortage of currency.
Wrightson began life in 1861 in Dunedin as Wright Robertson & Co., a partnership between John Wright and Robert Robertson. Advertisements from its first decade of business said the firm ‘was prepared to arrange for the sale or purchase of station property; to receive consignments of sheep and cattle for sale; and to make liberal advances when required’.
Robertson left the business in 1868 and was replaced by auctioneer John Stephenson. The company traded as Wright Stephenson for many years, selling supplies and horses to farmers and miners. It was later called Wrightson.
In 2005, Pyne Gould Guinness merged with Wrightson to form PGG Wrightson.