The boy bank manager
An early European immigrant, George Mico Ross did not have an easy journey to New Zealand. His father died in Melbourne on the way, leaving his mother with six children.
Soon after his arrival in 1862, he joined the newly formed Bank of New Zealand. At 20 years old, the young Mr Ross was to become known as 'The boy bank manager.' From Dunedin, he set out to his first job at Queenstown - a three day ride. His horse was poor and he ended up walking nearly all the way.
Upon reaching his destination he founded a canvas bank. Years later, Mr Ross recalled, "Shortly after arrival, a government proclamation was issued, warning everyone to leave Queenstown because the winter was expected to be so severe. We stayed on. It was terribly cold. I shudder even now to think of living in those canvas tents in the rain, sleet and intense cold."
Next, he opened a bank at Arthur's Point, four miles away. This settlement was almost surrounded by the Shotover River. There was only one ford. During one flood 20 men drowned. The waters swept everything away.
Weather wasn't his only concern, "I always had a policeman with me on my travelling about the goldfields. I would often get home at 1 and 2am. One of my banks burnt down. The gold bags were just singed, and the gold did not melt."
Ross's role in establishing BNZ's presence across the lucrative, although harsh environment of the goldfields played an important part in the bank's early years. Ross remained with BNZ until his eventual retirement in Palmerston in 1903.