Sir Harold Beauchamp
New Zealand was not immune to the long depression experienced globally from 1870s through to the 1890s. Land had fallen below the value of advances made to acquire it and BNZ was in real trouble.
A scheme was established that the Government would rescue the bank and in effect becoming its largest shareholder. The Government was entitled to fair representation and nominated four directors to the Board, amongst them, Sir Harold Beauchamp.
Beauchamp was born in Australia in 1858. He came to New Zealand in 1861 with his family, settling in Picton. Moving to Wellington in 1876 Beauchamp soon became one of the city's leading businessmen. He was a member of the BNZ board from 1898 - 1935 and Chairman from 1907 - 1912, 1913 - 1922 and 1934.
His extensive overseas travel gained him the economic insight to help transform BNZ. As Director and Chairman, he gave press interviews and frequently wrote reviews on trade, commerce and finance. In his autobiography, "Reminiscences and Recollections" (1937) Beauchamp proudly recalled the process of BNZ's recovery and his role steering the bank out the depression and through war years.
Today, Beauchamp is best known as the father of author Katherine Mansfield. Mansfield died in France in early January 1923 the same year Beauchamp was made a Knight Bachelor. It was not the only personal hardship he had endured during his busy career. His only son Leslie Heron Beauchamp was killed serving abroad in 1915 and his first wife died in 1918.
Sir Harold Beauchamp died in Wellington in 1938 leaving a notable legacy. He had served as Vice-President of the War Memorial Carillon Society and a portion of his estate was donated to the New Zealand Academy for Fine Arts.