100 Years of Economics at the University of Canterbury

The year 2020 marked the 100-year anniversary of the establishment of the Economics Department at the University of Canterbury. It was in 1920 that the first Professor of Economics, John Condliffe, was formally appointed, and this milestone marks the historical starting point for the Department.

Over the ensuing 100 years, there have been a great many important events in the Department’s development, and many important people who have left their mark upon the Department. This time-line, which is a live ‘work-in-progress’ document, captures many of these events and people. We hope it is both interesting and informative.

1920: The Board of Governors of Canterbury College, founded in 1873 as a constituent college of The University of New Zealand, appointed John B Condliffe (MA, NZ) as the inaugural professor of economics on the advice of a selection committee headed by Professor A C Pigou. Economics or Political Economy had been taught from 1879 in the BA and MA degrees in the Department of History and Political Economy by Professor J.Macmillan Brown and a number of assistants, including James Hight. Albert H Tocker (MA, NZ) appointed as assistant to Condliffe.

1926: Condliffe resigned on appointment as research secretary at the Institute of Pacific Relations at Honolulu. Tocker appointed to succeed Condliffe on the advice of selection committee headed by A C Pigou.

1927: George Lawn (MA, NZ) appointed to assist Tocker and promoted to lectureship in subsequent year.

  • Condliffe
    John B. Condliffe
  • book
    The cover of a book written by Condliffe in 1932
  • Condliffe Adress
    Condliffe's address and phone number (top right)
  • Tocker
    Albert H. Tocker
  • Signatures
    Condliffe and Tocker's signatures

1932: Tocker appointed to a committee chaired by James Hight to produce a report to the NZ government on the causes of the depression in NZ and policy options.

1933: Tocker attended the World Monetary and Economic Conference in London, convened by the League of Nations, to suggest recovery policies from The Great Depression.

1937: Lawn resigned to be the inaugural Economic Adviser to the Reserve Bank of NZ and was temporarily succeeded by Alan Low (MA, NZ) who later joined the  Reserve Bank as a research economist and subsequently rose to be its Governor in 1967.

1939: Colin G F Simpkin (MA, NZ) appointed as lecturer.

  • alan low
    Alan Low, who became the Governor of the Reserve Bank
  • arts centre
    UC's original campus (now the Christchurch Arts centre) where the Economics Department was founded.

1943: Alan Danks (MA, NZ) joined the Department as relief lecturer in Simkin’s absence on military service.
Tocker appointed as part-time Rector of Canterbury University College.

1946: Simpkin resigned to be Professor of Economics at Auckland University College and was succeeded by Danks.

1947: Wolfgang Rosenberg (MCom, NZ) and Graham Miller (MCom, NZ) appointed as lecturers. Danks promoted to Senior Lectureship.

1948: Tocker’s retirement from Chair of Economics and Rectorship of Canterbury University College.

  • Danks
    Alan Danks

1950: Cornelis Weststrate LLD (Leiden), a professor from Leiden University appointed to succeed Tocker to the Chair and Headship of Economics.

1951: Weststrate appointed Dean of Commerce till 1958. Danks became a member of the College Council till 1956. Paul Samuelson’s Economics text adopted as a first year text.

1952: Rosenberg promoted to Senior Lectureship.

1953: Miller promoted to Senior Lectureship.

1955: Danks promoted to Associate Professorship.

1959: Economic History taught as a separate undergraduate course.

  • wolfgang rosenberg
    Wolfgang Rosenberg
  • Paul Samuelson’s Economics text
    Paul Samuelson’s Economics text
  • Cornelis Weststrate
    Cornelis Weststrate's Economics Text

1960: Danks appointed as Dean of Arts for 3 years and as a founding member of the University Grants Committee.

1962: Frank Tay BA Hons (W Aust) was appointed as assistant lecturer in 1962. He was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1969, and served a 3 year term as Head of Department from 1978-81. Although he officially retired in 1989, he has remained associated with the department in a variety of roles right up to the present day. This represents an involvement with the department of 59 years, over half of the centenary period! 

economics centenary

Frank tay in his retirement year.

1963: Michael Hudson B Ec, Hons (Syd) and Peter Hampton MCom (Vic) PhD (Ott) appointed as lecturers. Rosenberg promoted as Reader.

1964: John Guise MA (Cant) appointed lecturer. Tay promoted to lectureship. Econometrics taught in final year undergraduate and graduate courses.

1965: Albert Brownlie MCom (Auck), Associate Professor from University of Auckland, appointed to the second Chair of Economics.

1966: Resignations of Guise and Hudson. Danks resigned to be Chairman of The University Grants Committee. Anthony C Rayner BCom Hons, M.Soc. Sc (Birm) MA (Oxon) appointed as Senior Lecturer. Managerial Economics taught in final year undergraduate and graduate courses. Professor C P Kindleberger (MIT) visited the Department as the inaugural Erskine Fellow.

1967: “Knight’s Move“ programme introduced to allow enrolment of non-Economics graduates with strong mathematical and statistical background to a two-year M Com course in economics. The first “knight’s movers”: John Riley, Roger Hurnard and Hugo Rusbbridge. Visit of Dr J Stiglitz (MIT) as Erskine Fellow.

Click here to listen to Rosenberg asking the then NZ Prime Minister (Robert Muldoon) potentially the longest economics question ever asked on a radio broadcast.

1968: Economics admitted to Faculty of Science. Debreu’s Theory of Value used as one of the texts for graduate course in Mathematical Economics. Brownlie appointed Dean of Commerce for 3 years and as member of the Sixth and Seventh Groups of Experts on Programming Techniques, chaired by Jan Tinbergen at ECAFE in Bangkok. Michael P Todaro BA (Haverford) PhD (Yale) appointed lecturer, but did not take up appointment.

1969: Brian Easton BA (Well), B Sc Hons, John A George M Com, Ewen McCann MCom (NZ), MA (Chic) appointed lecturers. Rayner promoted to Reader, Hampton and Tay to Senior Lecturers. Visits of T Koopmans (Yale) and G Debreu (Calif) as Erskine Fellows.

Visits by imminent economists
Tjalling Koopmans, Gerard Debreu, and Joseph Stiglitz visited the department in the decade of the 1960s, and all of whom were awarded Nobel prizes in economics (Koopmans in 1975, Debreu in 1983, Stiglitz in 2001).

  • koopmans
    Tjalling Koopmans
  • Gerard Debreu
    Gerard Debreu
  • stiglitz
    Joseph Stiglitz

1970: Brownlie appointed Editor, New Zealand Economic Papers, for 3 years. Hans Daellenbach Lic.es Sciences (Geneva) MBA, PhD (Calif) appointed as Senior Lecturer. Graduate course in History of Economic Thought taught by visiting economist Murray Wilson (Oregon State University), author of Reappraisal of Marxian Economics.

1971: Brownlie appointed member of NZ Consumers Price Index Revision Committee. Daellenbach promoted to Reader. Record enrolment of 31 graduate students, including 19 “knights movers”.

1972: Rayner appointed as Professor and Richard Manning BA (Otago) MA as lecturer Brownlie appointed as Chairman of the NZ Monetary and Economic Council.

1973: Manning promoted to Senior Lecturer. Second visit of G Debreu as Erskine Fellow.

1974: Manning resigned. Tay appointed Dean of Arts till June 1977. Brownlie appointed as Assistant Vice-Chancellor.

1975: Brownlie appointed as member of the Commonwealth Experts Group on a New International Economic Order. Tay promoted over the Senior Lecturer bar. Miller retired. Leslie Young MSc (Well) DPhil (Oxon) and Kees de Kluyver MBA MS (Case) PhD (Purdue) appointed as lecturers David Giles and Bryce Wilkinson the first students to complete doctoral requirements under the supervision of Rayner.

1976: Degree structure changed from unit to points system. George promoted to Senior Lecturer. Courses in Operations Research and Mathematical Programming taught at final year undergraduate and graduate levels. Brownlie appointed as member of Wage Hearing Tribunal.

1977: McCann promoted to Senior Lecturer; John A Fountain BA (Br Col) MA PhD (Stan) and Don McNickle MSc PhD (Auck) appointed as lecturers. Operations Research became a separate division in the Department. Brownlie appointed Vice-Chancellor from December 1.

1978: Tay appointed Head of Department for 3-year term. Richard Manning BA (Otago) PhD (La Trobe) MA appointed as Professor. Hampton promoted to Reader: Young and de Kluyver promoted to Senior Lecturers. Enrolment in first year introductory economics reached 1000.

1979: Econ 210, a second year course in quantitative methods for econometrics and operations research, taught jointly by Economics and OR staff. Retirement of Rosenberg. 


Prof. Brownlie was the Head of the Economics Department from 1965 to 1977, after which he became the Vice Chancellor of the University. His reputation as a lecturer and academic is the stuff of legends. He brought mathematical analysis to the forefront of economics at UC, and strove to invite the world’s best microeconomics specialists (such as Gerard Debreu and Joseph Stiglitz) to visit the department.

1980: Brent Layton BA Hons BCA (Well) appointed lecturer primarily to teach Economic History at undergraduate and graduate levels. Les Foulds MSc (Auck) PhD (VPI) appointed Lecturer in Operations Research and Ken Henry BCom Hons (NSW) assistant lecturer in Economics. Tay reappointed Head of Department for another 3 year term.

1981: Alan Woodfield BCom (Otago), MCom appointed Senior Lecturer and Robin Harrison MSc (Lond) as lecturer. Foulds promoted to Senior Lecturer. De Kluyver and Easton resigned.

1982: Manning appointed as a Director of the Reserve Bank of NZ Professor R W Clower (Univ of South Carolina) visited as Erskine Fellow.

1983: George appointed Dean of Commerce for a term of 3 years. McNickle promoted to Senior Lecturer. Foulds resigned. Reappointment of Tay as HoD for a further 3 year term. Visit of Professor F M Fisher (MIT) as Erskine Fellow.

1984: Resignations of Rayner, Young and Layton. Appointment of K L Shea B Soc Sc (HK) MA PhD (Wash) as Senior lecturer. The Department ranked 127 worldwide and 34 amongst non-US departments in the Sept issue of the American. Econ Review for the period 1978 -83. Visit of Professor H R Varian (Univ of Michigan) as Erskine Fellow.

1985: Appointment of David E A Giles BSc MCom PhD as Professor. (Econometrics) Michael G R Carter PhD (Stan), BSc MCom and Manimay Sen BAHons, MA (Jadavpur), PhD (Delhi) appointed as Senior Lecturers in Economics. Appointments of Fred Baird BSc BE and Grant Read BSc Hons PhD as Lecturers in Operations Research. Shea and Henry resigned.

1986: Manning resigned at end of year. Tay reappointed Hod for a further 3 year term. Visits of Professors M K Majumdar (Cornell) and A Ulla (W Ontario) as Erskine Fellows.

richard manning

Richard Manning was a stand-out researcher, and much valued and influential teacher in the department for many years. He himself was a product of the department’s Masters program (class of 1966), and was first appointed as a lecturer in the department in 1972. After a short stint away overseas from 1974, he returned with an appointment as Professor in 1978. He put together an enviable resume of publications in microeconomic theory while serving in the department, including ground-breaking work on the theory of search. He left in 1986 to take up a position in the USA, but most unfortunately passed away only a year after that.

1987: Dorian Owen BScHons, MSc PhD (Wales) appointed Senior Lecturer in Economics. Read promoted Senior Lecturer in Operations Research. Daellenbach promoted to Professor. Visits of Professors John Riley (UCLA) and G Debreu (Calif) as Erskine Fellows. Operations Research became a separate department.

1988: Visit of Professor P K Pattanaik (Birmingham) as Erskine Fellow

1989: Tay retired at start of year and re-employed on temporary part-time basis. Alan Woodfield appointed to 3 year term as HoD. Paul C Dalziel PhD (Otago) MCom appointed Lecturer in Economics. Owen resigned. Erskine Fellows: Professors J R Green (Calif) and V K Srivastava (Lucknow).

Notable visitors:

Frank Fisher

One of the foremost of US academic economists specialising in industrial organisation, microeconomics and econometrics. He was Professor at MIT (he passed away in 2019), and he won the John Bates Clark Medal in 1973 (prize given to the American economist under the age of 40 who has made a significant contribution to economic thought and knowledge). He was the PhD supervisor of a huge list of famous economists. Fisher visited in 1983.

Hal Varian

Varian is the author of some of the most well-known microeconomics text books in the world. He was the founding Dean of the School of Information at Berkeley, and since 2002 he is the Chief Economist at Google. He visited in 1984, and again in 2009 to deliver the Condliffe lecture.

John Riley

Riley is one of the world’s most famous academic authors on the topic of auctions. He is currently retired Emeritus Professor at UCLA. He was originally from Christchurch, and he was a graduate of the Department of Economics at Canterbury with a Masters degree in Economics in 1968. He visited in 1987.

  • james height
    The economics department was moved to the 9th floor of the James Hight building

1990: Erskine Fellows: Professors David Smyth (Louisiana State) and H Payton-Young (Maryland).

1991: K L Shea returned as Senior Lecturer in Economics. Judith A Giles (née Clark) BEcHons, MEc (Monash) PhD appointed Lecturer. WYP (Pim) Borren MCom appointed fixed term lecturer. John P Small MA appointed part-time lecturer. Erskine Fellows: Professors Vince Crawford (San Diego) and Dudley Wallace (Duke).

1992: John Fountain and Judith Giles produced a Report on Finding a New Hod. Judith Giles promoted to Senior Lecturer and appointed HoD on 3 year term. Erskine Fellows: Professors Michael Parkin (W Ont), D Starrett (Stan) and Ken White (Brit Col).

1993: Hampton retired early in the year. Resignations of David and Judith Giles and John Small. Erskine Fellows: Professors Ronald Bewley (NSW),Martin Osborne (MacMaster) and Doug Pearce (North Carolina).

1994: Ewen McCann appointed HoD on 3 year term. Alfred Guender BAHons (Texas) MS (Illinois) PhD (North Carolina) and Dongin Lee MA, PhD (Michigan State) appointed lecturers. Graeme Guthrie BScHons MCom appointed tutor in Economics. The Faculty of Commerce Review reported that in the 1970s and 1980s the Canterbury Economics  Department “was one of the best Economics Departments in Australasia." McCann resigned as HoD in October. Robin Harrison appointed as successor. Erskine Fellows: Professors Mark Machina (San Diego), Joe Peck (Boston) and Arnold Zellner (Chic).

1995: Resignation of McCann. Erskine Fellows: Professors Ted Bergstrom (Mich), Peter Kennedy (Simon Fraser) and Michael Peters (Toronto)

1996: Philip Maguire BA MBA PhD (Chic), R WinKelmann Dip Volkswirt(Konstanz) MA(Wash) PhD(Munich) appointed Senior Lecturers Philip Gumby MCom PhD (W Ont) G A Guthrie BScHons MCom PhD, D Lee BA (Korea) MA PhD (Mich State) and Julian K D Wright BScHons appointed Lecturers. Erskine Fellows: Professors Richard Froyen (North Carolina), Glen Harrison (South Carolina) and David Hendry (Nuffield College).

1997: Harrison promoted to Senior Lecturer Lee resigned. Erskine Fellows: Professors Richard Arnott (Boston) and Arie Kapteyn (Tilburg).

1998: Alfred A Haug Dip V (Konstanz) PhD (Ohio) appointed as Associate Professor Lilianna WinKelmann BA (Belgrade) MA (Wash) appointed Lecturer. C Criotoru MSc (Buch) appointed technician Erskine Fellows: Professors Nelson C Mark (Ohio State) and Michael K Salemi (North Carolina); Associate Professor Peter Morgan (Mich) and Dr Neil Ericsson, Federal Reserve (Washington).

1999: Appointment of Jeremy E Clark MA (Brit Col) PhD(Cornell) as Lecturer Erskine Fellows: Professors B Curtis Easton (Simon Fraser) Joop Hartog (Amsterdam) and Pierre Siklos (Wilfred Laurier); Dr Anindya (Oxon). Departures: Julian Wright, Liliana Winkelmann. Review of Department conducted by a panel of 5 headed by Dean of Commerce Bob Hamilton. Robin Harrison Head of Department.

Notable visitors:

Arnold Zellner

Zellner was a pioneer in the field of Bayesian analysis and econometric modelling. He spent most of his academic career at University of Chicago. He passed away in 2010 at the age of 83.

Richard Froyen

Foyen visited the Department in 1996. Froyen, who is a leading macroeconomics scholar, returned on two more occasions (2004 and 2014), and struck up a productive research agenda with Alfred Guender from the Department.

2000: Head of Department, Robin Harrison. Resignations of Graeme Guthrie, and Rainer Winkelmann. Appointments of Laura Meriluoto MSc (Helsinki) PhD (SFU) to Lecturer and Paul Dalziel PhD (Otago) MCom to Senior Lecturer. Promotion of Woodfield to Associate Professor. Erskine Fellows: Professors Clive W J Granger (San Diego) and R Andrew Muller (McMaster).

2001: Head of Department, Paul Dalziel. Les Oxley BAHons (Wales) MA (Sheffield) PhD (Tilburg) appointed Professor. Seamus D Hogan MA PhD appointed Senior Lecturer, Kenneth Carlaw MA PhD (Simon Fraser). Guender promoted to Senior Lecturer. Haug and Dalziel resigned. Michael Carter departs. Erskine Fellows: Professors Alex Cukierman (Tel Aviv), Peter Kennedy (Simon Fraser) and Michael Wickens (McMaster).

2002: Head of Department, Les Oxley. Steven Tucker BA (Colorado) MS PhD (Purdue) and Paul Williamson BAcc(Dundee) MSc (Glas) PhD (Edinburgh) appointed Lecturers. Michael McCosker Dip T (CCE) BAHons appointed Senior Tutor. Erskine Fellows: Professors Jon M Conrad (Cornell), Richard Lipsey (SFU) and William Scarth (McMaster).

2003: Bonggeum Kim BA MA (Seoul) PhD (Mich) appointed Lecturer, and Stephen Hickson as Senior Tutor. Erskine Fellows: Professors Vincent Crawford (San Diego), Roger Farmer (UCLA), Bernard Ruffeux (Grenoble) and Associate Professor Bram C Cadsby (Guelph).

2004: Creation of colleges across the university. Economics becomes one of three departments in the College of Business and Economics. Eric Crampton appointed as Lecturer. McCosker leaves.

2005: Prof. John Gibson appointed, and becomes HOD. The annual Condliffe Memorial Lecture instituted in honour of John Bell Condliffe, the first professor of economics at Canterbury University College in 1921. Inaugural speaker: Jerry Hausman.

2006: Richard Watt appointed as Senior Lecturer, and Stephen Agnew appointed as Senior Tutor. Jeremy Clark and Alfred Guender promoted to Assoc. Professor.

2007: Prof. Gibson resigns, and first Laura Meriluoto then Jeremy Clark take over the interim HOD role. Seamus Hogan appointed as permanent HOD. New appointments are Prof. Bob Reed as Professor, and Dr. Andrea Kutinova (Menclova) and Maros Servatka as Senior Lecturers. Paul Williamson, Ken Carlaw and Bonggeun Kim leave.

2009: Finance merges with Economics, implying the incorporation to the department staff of Warwick Anderson, Jedrzej Bialkowski, Prof. Glenn Boyle, Abey Gunasekarage and Debra Reed. Department permanent staff reaches 23 members, the highest ever. Steven Tucker and Maros Servatka co-found the New Zealand Experimental Economics Laboratory (NZEEL). Richard Watt promoted to Assoc. Professor.

Notable visitors:

clive ranger

Clive Granger won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2003 for his contributions to nonlinear time series analysis in econometrics. “Granger causality” is a concept that is used universally in econometric analysis. He was visiting the department on the very day that he was informed of being awarded the Nobel prize. Granger had his own office in the department, and visited regularly until his unfortunate passing in 2009.

Mark Blaug

Blaug visited in 2007, when he also delivered the Condliffe lecture. An important contributor to economic history and economic thought, and the methodology of economics.

Gene Grossman

Grossman visited in 2006 to deliver the Condliffe Lecture.

Jerry Hausman

Jerry Hausman visited in 2005 to deliver the Condliffe Lecture.

Richard Lipsey

Richard Lipsey Erskine visitor in 2002.

Copper Top Building

The building the Department was located in until the 2011 Earthquake.

2010: Prof. Bob Reed becomes HOD. Kuntal Das and Bill Rea appointed as Lecturers. Abey Gunasekarage leaves.

charles plott

Charles Plott visited in 2010 to deliver the Condliffe lecture.

2011: Huong Dieu Dang appointed as Lecturer. Alan Woodfield retires. Department leaves the “Copper Top” building and sets up temporary offices on Ilam fields, as a result of the earthquakes.

2013: Jeremy Clark becomes Head of Department. Prof. Les Oxley and Steven Tucker resign.

edward glaeser

Edward Glaeser visited in 2013 to deliver the Condliffe Lecture.

2014: Robin Harrison retires. Jedrzej Bialkowski, Seamus Hogan, Maros Servatka promoted to Associate Professor. Following downturn in student enrolments worsened by 2010/2011 Canterbury earthquakes, a Department Review was struck, and three valued members of staff were made redundant. The Department introduces the Master of Applied Finance and Economics, a Business Economics major, and an internship programme for undergraduate students in their final year.

david card

In 2014, David Card visited to deliver the Condliffe lecture. Card was awarded the Nobel prize in Economics in 2021.

2015: Eric Crampton, John Fountain, and Seamus Hogan leave due to Department review process. The Department is back on main campus, with offices on the 4th floor of the refurbished Law building, now named “Business and Law Building”.

2016: Richard Watt becomes Head of Department. Maros Servatka leaves and Philip Meguire retires.

2017: Tom Coupe appointed as Associate Professor.

2018: Gerry Nartea appointed as Associate Professor. Jedrzej Bialkowski establishes the UC Trading Room.

2019: Appointments of Onur Koska as Senior Lecturer, and Moritz Wagner and Mona Yaghoubi as Lecturers. Prof. Glenn Boyle and Bill Rea retire. Richard Watt and Jedrzej Bialkowski promoted to Professor. Andrea Menclova is promoted to the rank of Associate Professor, thereby becoming the first female to reach that rank in the history of the department.

gary libecap

Gary Libecap visited in 2019.

  • pods
    The “pods” where the Department was located right after the earthquakes
  • meremere
    The Department moved back on campus in 2015 into the Meremere building

2020: Jedrzej Bialkowski becomes Head of Department. Deb Reed retires. Laura Meriluoto promoted to Associate Professor.

2021: Xiaopeng Wei appointed as Lecturer. Colleges are replaced by Faculties; the Department is one of three departments in the UC Business School/Faculty of Business.

Sir Frank Holmes Prize Winners
The Sir Frank Holmes prize is awarded annually to the best graduating economics student in New Zealand. Students from the UC Department of Economics and Finance have won this prestigious award in 5 of the last 6 years.

Sir Frank Holmes prize winners

Josh McSkimming (on the left, winner in 2019), Daniel Watt (on the right, winner in 2020), and Justine Lee (centre, winner in 2021).