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Wright Stephenson

Wright Stephenson was a stock and station agency founded in Dunedin, New Zealand, in 1861 that by 1972, just before merging with NMA, it had developed 27 stock and station branches throughout New Zealand with more than 100 further sub-branches and agencies to service farming areas throughout the country. As well, by the time of its centenary in 1961, the company had established managerial offices in Melbourne and London, 15 sub-branches in Australia, and 4 sub-branches in Britain.

Wright Stephenson & Co Limited
renamed NMA Wright Stephenson Holdings Limited 1972
renamed Challenge Corporation Limited 1973
IndustryStock and Station Agency
Fate(business) merged with Fletcher Holdings Limited
(company) dissolved 2000
PredecessorWright Stephenson
SuccessorJuly 1, 1981 (1981-07-01) Fletcher Challenge Limited
FoundedDunedin, New Zealand (business) (1861 (1861))
(company) March 28, 1906 (1906-03-28)
FounderJohn Wright and Robert Robertson
Defunctceased operations July 1, 1981 (1981-07-01)
Dunedin until 1918 then Wellington
Number of locations
Area served
New Zealand, Australia, England [1]
Key people

After the merger with NMA the company was known from 23 March 1972 as NMA Wright Stephenson Holdings Limited until 31 October when the long-intended name was assumed, Challenge Corporation.

Following the January 1981 merger of Challenge with Fletcher Holdings and Tasman Pulp and Paper — which did not provide the desired financial stability — the Fletcher Challenge group was demerged in 2001.

The stock and station agency operations now form a core part of the business known as PGG Wrightson.


The business was begun in 1861 as 'Wright, Robertson, & Co.' by partners John T. Wright and Robert M. Robertson as a result of a population boom fueled by the Otago Gold Rush. Robertson left in 1868 and was replaced by auctioneer John Stephenson. Wright and Stephenson retired from the company in 1899. Due to significant growth in the volume of its business activities, ownership was switched to a public listed company in 1906.[1][2]

Core businessEdit

On behalf of its farming clients Wright Stephenson handled the sale and auction of livestock, wool, land, grain and seed as well as provided services to meet a range of agricultural and pastoral requirements.[2] The company also promoted local livestock by supporting national shows, breed societies, and pastoral associations.[1]

Pastoral banking serviceEdit

Working capital and capital was provided to the farming industry together with advice on farm accounting, budgeting, taxation and estate planning.[2]


To dilute the seasonal and cyclical nature of their activities in the wool trade Wright Stephenson developed extensive interests held in:

  • the motor vehicle industry including retail and wholesale trading and manufacturing
  • home-appliance stores, a chain of more than a dozen throughout New Zealand's main centres
  • warehouses engaged in the wholesale distribution of hardware, pharmaceuticals, veterinary supplies and general merchandise
  • major holdings in a quoted company operating 27 department stores
  • a joint venture developing shopping centres and major commercial buildings.[2]

Stock and station agencies acquiredEdit





Notable leadersEdit

Wright Stephenson produced a number of New Zealand's most prominent businessmen of the 19th and 20th century including Sir William Hunt, David Allan, Sir Clifford Plimmer and Sir Ronald Trotter.

Wrightson NMAEdit

In 1972 Wright Stephenson merged with National Mortgage and Agency Company of New Zealand to form Wrightson NMA[2] The holding company took the name NMA Wright Stephenson, it was to change that to Challenge Corporation in 1973,[4] which subsequently merged with Fletcher Holdings in 1981 to form Fletcher Challenge.


  1. ^ a b c A Century's Challenge: Wright Stephenson & Co. Limited 1861-1961, by J. C. Irving, 1961.
  2. ^ a b c d e "NMA Wright Stephenson Holdings Limited". The Times (58466). 1 May 1972. p. 20.
  3. ^ Page 4, Large Companies, Forming PGG Wrightson, Te Ara The Encyclopedia of New Zealand
  4. ^ Challenge Corporation Limited. The Times, Thursday, Nov 01, 1973; pg. 26; Issue 58928