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OBITUARY

SIR JAMES COATES

PROMINENT BANKER

WAR-TIME WORK

One of the best-known men in banking circles in New Zealand—Sir James Coalcs—died at Auckland yesterday after a severe illness. He was a native of New Zealand and represented the old order of pioneers who worked for the country during the difficult days towards the close of last century, being actively associated with political and financial affairs. He was also known by hundreds of New Zealanders because of the interest he took in Dominion soldiers during the war years when he was stationed in London, and his passing will be regretted by all who knew him.

He resided for many years in Wellington and was closely identified with banking and sporting activities in the city. Several of his former friends and associates, including Sir James Grose, the general manager of the National Bank of New Zealand, will leave for Auckland this afternoon to attend the funeral which is to be held at 3 p.m. tomorrow.

Sir James Hugh Buchanan Coates was born at St. George's Bay, Auckland, on October 9, 1851. His father, Mr. James Coates, was a barrister by profession, who came to New Zealand as private secretary to Captain Hobson, the first Governor of the colony and, when the Government was established in Auckland, became the first Clerk to the Executive Council. Later he was Sheriff of Auckland and he held that office up to the time of his death in 1853. Sir James was educated at the old Church of England Grammar School in Auckland and at St. John's College.

On leaving school in 1869 he joined the staff of the Bank of New South Wales, and soon after the Thames goldfield was opened in 1867 he was transferred to the branch opened there. While at the diggings in 1873 he was offered, a tellership in the Auckland branch of the National Bank of New Zealand, and accepted it, rising to the position of accountant in 1876, and that of manager of the branch in. 1884. Nine years later he received the appointment of general manager for New Zealand. The headquarters of the bank were then at Dunedin. At the request of the directors Mr. Coates paid a visit to London to consult with them as to the policy and conduct of the business of the bank in New Zealand, and on his return in 1893 entered on his duties as general manager, with headquarters at Wellington. In 19.14 he went to London with the rank of director at the head office. His residence there from the beginning of the Great War was a boon to many New Zealand soldiers, for he took a leading part in the dispensing of hospitality and guidance to young men from the Dominion who found themselves alone in the centre of the' Empire, and in the organisation of patriotic movements on their behalf. In December, 1919, he finally returned to the Dominion, being now made honorary director of the bank, and after a short residence in Wellington made his home at Parnell, Auckland, where he lived until the time of his death. In recognition'of his many public services he was knighted in 1922.

Throughout his career as a banker Sir James was a trusted adviser of the official financiers of New Zealand. Sir George Grey, Mr. Seddon, and Sir Joseph Ward were always glad to consult him.in times of crisis—for most of Mr. Massey's term of office he was out of the Dominion. In the stirring times of 1894, when Australian'banks were toppling over, and only the passing in one night, by the Seddon Government, of the Bank of New Zealand Share Guarantee Act, and the other banking legislation of that year, saved New Zealand from similar disaster, Sir James was one of the leading bankers with whom Ministers took counsel before deciding upon their course of action. It was no secret at the time that in the reconstruction of the Bankof New Zealand under the Government guarantee Sir James was offered the position of president, but that he preferred to remain with the-institution on which he had built up his fame.

When the Midland Railway Company, which had undertaken the construction of the railway from Christchurch to the West Coast, went into liquidation, Sir James was appointed receiver in New Zealand for the company's debenture holders. At the time of the visit of King George and Queen Mavy (then Duke and Duchess of Cornwall) to New Zealand in. 1901, Sir James was one of the Commissioners appointed by the. Government of the day to carry out the reception arrangements.

In his youth Sir James was a leading athlete in Auckland. A recollection of which he was always proud was that one one occasion, in a competition in putting the stone, he defeated "Tim" O'Connor, then the champion of New Zealand. In football, before the Rugby rules had been adopted in this country, he was one of Auckland's representative players, and throughout his life he has been one'of the foremost patrons of all forms of athletic exercise. He was one of the founders of the Auckland Amateur Athletic Association, of which he was president until he removed to Wellington. •

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/EP19351012.2.73

Bibliographic details

OBITUARY, Evening Post, Volume CXX, Issue 90, 12 October 1935

Word Count
866

OBITUARY Evening Post, Volume CXX, Issue 90, 12 October 1935

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