The University on the Hill

Author(s): Neil Penman

NZ Non Fiction

This story begins in Otago in 1870 when pioneer Charles Todd and his family arrived in Dunedin from Scotland. Initially Charles worked on the Otago goldfields in a management capacity but in 1884 he and his 16-year-old son Charles established a woolscour and fellmongery in the village of Heriot, West Otago. When James Todd decided to join his brother Charles in the development of a stock and station agency the partnership of Todd Bros. was established - marking the beginning of one of New Zealand's great industrial dynasties. A repair garage was opened at Heriot, and having secured the local Ford agency, went on to develop a chain of garages in the small towns of Otago. As the Todd enterprises expanded a head office was established in Dunedin in 1923. When the Gray motor car agency was acquired, the office was moved to Christchurch, and became Todd Motors Ltd. By 1931 the company was based in Wellington and was also handling all the Rootes group products - Hillman, Hunter, Sunbeam, along with Commer and Karrier trucks - a business association that was to last 48 profitable years. During the height of the Great Depression in 1932 Todd Bros. imported low cost bulk Russian petrol and embarked on retail distribution under the name of Europa. The profits from this successful venture enabled Todd Motor Industries, in 1935, to finance and build the Petone plant for manufacturing completely knocked down motor vehicles - another success story. By 1939 war had intervened and for the next five years the factory was placed on a total war footing. The post-war years were those of continual expansion with demand pushing production to record levels. Gradually their sourcing of vehicles shifted from Europe to Japan after the Mitsubishi franchise was granted to Todd Motors in 1970. Further expansion occurred in 1974 when Petone was closed and the following year a state-of-the-art plant was officially opened at Todd Park, Porirua. By the late 1980's it had become clear that the motor assembly industry was in decline and all the talent and finance of the Todd Group was insufficient to sustain the cyclical nature of the business. Subsequently the entire Todd Park establishment was sold in 1987 to the Mitsubishi Motor Corporation of Japan. Mitsubishi continued to assemble CKD vehicles but by the late 1990s a flood of Japanese used cars (111,764 in 1996 alone) together with the loss of volume, reduced tafirr protection and continued discounting, compelling the closure of the Todd Park assembly plant on 19 June, 1998.


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Product Information

General Fields

  • : 9780473101732
  • : penmnz
  • : penmnz
  • : October 2005
  • : 295mm X 285mm
  • : New Zealand
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Neil Penman
  • : Hardback
  • : 377
  • : colour photographs