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The Family Budgeters: An Account of the Family Budgeting Movement in New Zealand, 1960—1978

The Family Budgeters: An Account of the Family Budgeting Movement in New Zealand, 1960—1978

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The Family Budgeters: An Account of the Family Budgeting Movement in New Zealand, 1960—1978

169 pages
2 heures
Oct 5, 2015


In 2015 the New Zealand Federation of Family Budgeting Services is a massive organisation that assists families with their household budgeting. The national Government provides substantial financial assistance to enable competent people to handle initial interviews and manage the hundreds of volunteers in about 170 affiliated groups throughout the country.
But financial support from state funds was not always available. From the novel approach by Dr Nathan Paewai and Gray Vuglar in Kaikohe in 1960, family budgeting sprang up quickly in many centres. Many groups were nominally supported by the Department of Maori Affairs. Most were loosely organised into independent groups with their own procedures.
But the very success of these voluntary groups engendered huge demand.. Pressure on the volunteers became, in some place, intolerable. Many groups were in and some simply disappeared. Nevertheless, the 1960s and 1970s saw some very successful.
The advent of the Home Budgeting Advisory Committee in 1978 marked the beginning of formal government assistance. The story of the ten years’ life of that Committee has already been told in the author’s A Small Qango, also available at Smashwords. But the experiences of those who carried the flag for family budgeting through the 1960s and 1900s with no financial assistance to speak of, have been largely lost.
This book is the story of those earlier years. Thanks to the remarkable MA thesis of Yvonne Burns, it provides insights into Paewai and Vuglar and the remarkable “Kaikohe Scheme. It recounts the spread of informal family budgeting groups in the next years. It tells of rugged individuals who later exhausted themselves trying to meet all the need that confronted them.
This book also offers insights into the thinking of the political parties that —on and off the parliamentary benches—recognised for several years that something should be done but feared to bite the financial bullet. It analyses some of the influences on family budgeting during the formative years before there began to be some national coordination. It invites sympathy and understanding for those who prepared submissions that would be largely ignored and others who beat on the doors of business houses and local bodies for financial assistance that was seldom forthcoming. It honours all those who simply dipped into their own pockets to meet the costs of administration, phone calls and the costly mileage that was travelled to meet people in their own homes. It also records imaginative approaches that depended rather less on a central figure to do all the initial casework.
In two or three centres, local government and business houses gave considerable support. Behind the meagre archival record there are hints of state servants who caught a vision of a great volunteer movement and were able to steer their political masters in constructive directions. And there is substantial detail around the steps that were taken in 1974 and 1975 to put in place a national organisation. This would eventually pull together the disparate threads of family budgeting and create the kind of procedure and organisation that has been largely emulated by the new Federation from 1988.
The author was introduced to Family Budgeting in 1964 and as and active volunteer he co-sponsored the first national gathering to consider forming a national body to seek government finance in 1974. As one of the last of the “steam budgeters” he accepted the challenge to try to record the story of the earliest days of the movement. He has assembled a fascinating story of household budgeting during two largely forgotten decades.

Oct 5, 2015

À propos de l'auteur

Retired Presbyter of Methodist Church of New Zealand. Passionate pioneer in Local Shared Ministry, consultant in small churches, publisher of over 100 niche market books, producer of prosumer video, deviser of murder mystery dinners and former private pilot. I trained for the Methodist Ministry at Trinity Theological College and eventually completed MA, Dip Ed as well. Bev and I married just before my first appointment in Ngatea where our two children arrived. We went on to Panmure and Taumarunui. Longer terms followed at Dunedin Central Mission and the Theological College. During this time I was also involved as co-founder and second national President of Family Budgeting Services and adviser to the (government) Minister of Social Welfare. My final four years were part-time, developing the first Presbyterian or Methodist Local Shared Ministry unit in this country and promoting the concept overseas. Retirement has brought a whole lot more opportunities and challenges. We are now living in our own villa in Hibiscus Coast Residential Village.

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Aperçu du livre

The Family Budgeters - Dave Mullan

The Family Budgeters

Dave Mullan

ISBN 978-1-877357-23-7

ColCom Press

28/101 Red Beach Road,

Hibiscus Coast, Aotearoa-New Zealand 0932




Copyright 2015 Dave Mullan

Smashwords Edition

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com or your favorite retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.


My thanks are due to Raewyn Fox, and the NZ Federation of Family Budgeting Services—Te Roopu Penapena Putea Whanau o Aotearoa

Raewyn and her staff have provided full access to their official archive, including the notable thesis of Yvonne Burns for Master of Arts in Social Work.

While they have provided invaluable support and advice, the Federation has had no editorial input and all errors of fact or omission are mine alone.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. The Kaikohe Partnership

3. The Accidental Social Workers

4. Some Indie Services

5. Social Agencies in Budgeting

6. The Centralised Services

7. Federation

8. Government Support

9. Home Budgeting Advisory Committee—1978

10. A Steam Budgeter Reflects

11. Reminiscences



About the Author

28/101 Red Beach Rd, Hibiscus Coast 0932

Chief Executive Officer

NZ Federation of Family Budgeting Services


Attn: Raewyn Fox

Re: Item borrowed from your archive

Dear Ms Fox

I am sorry that I have not yet returned the document that was loaned to me by your office some time ago.

I acknowledge that the covering letter said that I had to return it by 8th June 2009. This was perfectly clearly spelled out and there can be no disagreement as to the facts of the situation. I did not return it by the due date.

However, due to indifferent health I was not able to read the document in the two weeks permitted. On the day I was due to return it my quarterly PSA check showed a marked and unexpected increase. Shortly afterwards I had to go onto an additional medication for my prostate cancer. By the time my system had adjusted to this a year or two had passed. Or perhaps more.

In my defence, I have to say that the document was filed carefully away and clearly labelled to be sent to you in the event of my demise. That it has not come to you long before this may be a matter for your regret, but not at all of mine.

Then we moved and I forgot all about it. So, as an act of repentance, and in the absence of anyone who has survived longer than myself and might have done a better job, I now submit a rough account of the origins of family budgeting services in this country. I fear it may be an unsubtle mixture of demonstrable facts and a liberal garnish of my own personal reflections.

But I trust it will be some compensation for the absence of Yvonne Burns’ excellent thesis from your archives for the last few years.

Penitentially yours

Dave Mullan, October 2015


The Family Budgeters records the early development of budget advising in New Zealand. The movement is unique in that it developed through almost entirely voluntary effort, which is an amazing tribute to the commitment and enthusiasm of those volunteers.

The voluntary nature of this development stands our system apart from many others around the world and gives it a uniquely New Zealand do it yourself flavour.

The delivery of budgeting advice through the New Zealand Federation of Family Budgeting Services today still utilises a 56% volunteer workforce although increasing amounts of the work is being done by paid advisers.

The nature of the work has not changed considerably since those early days, however the creditors are more numerous and the dollar value of debts greater. The developmental work recorded in this book gave solid grounding and systems that remain valid and valuable for advisers and clients today.

On behalf of the organisation in 2015, I would like to thank and pay tribute to all the pioneering work captured in this book and the people who laid a solid groundwork for us.

I give special thanks to Dave Mullan who was one of those pioneers and has maintained a keen interest to research and record our history in this valuable book.

Raewyn Fox

Chief Executive Officer,

New Zealand Federation of Family Budgeting Services

Author’s Foreword

In A Small Qango, an account of the Home Budgeting Advisory Committee, I observed that another book was needed to tell the story of New Zealand’s voluntary household budgeting services. A Small Qango was written out of the heat of an intensive ten years’ personal experience and five large binders including every known document. The other book would require a much different set of resources and knowledge.

I have waited for a more competent, knowledgeable and formal historian to write that other story. The NZ Federation of Family Budgeting Services has long recognised the need to have some kind of record of the years up to its formal establishment as an independent organisation. The office has made a couple of attempts to assemble material, both historical and anecdotal. I was drawn into some discussion about a writing task twenty years ago and was given a complete copy of the sparse collection of documents held in Wellington.

There was hope for some funding for a comprehensive research programme but money for such a project could not become a priority. Nor was there even any prospect of financing a publication of any kind.

A few years later, several of us from the early years shared personal reflections and anecdotes. Some of these were published in the Federation’s newsletter and added to the archive. But the passage of time, health problems of my own and deaths of so many of the original volunteers have, until recently, defeated efforts to put together a coherent account.

In early 2015 I found myself with some discretionary time and energy. Developing a little experience with digital publication encouraged me to make another start. But this effort will be a poor substitute for the account that might have been put together by others who have now left us.

My involvement with family budgeting was intense but for only a couple of decades. After 1982 my time was limited to serving on the Home Budgeting Advisory Committee and had to cease altogether in 1988. I had only a few years in face-to-face budgeting—though, like others, I have some stories to tell. My main contributions were the introduction of the concept to Dunedin and subsequently many other centres in the South Island. I was the second national president of the federation but my election may have had less to do with my family budgeting expertise than my position on the government’s Home Budgeting Advisory Committee. I served for the full ten years of that committee’s life and was the only non-departmental chair when the qango hunters closed it down in 1988. So I played a role in the critical few years of establishing the credibility of the federation in the eyes of government and the resultant flow of funding from the public purse to the family budgeting movement.

Like most others who were directly involved in the work I had heard of Gray and Vuglar. But I knew little of the details of their amazing work in Kaitaia. It has been a huge revelation to examine Yvonne Burns’ record of painstaking research and in-depth interviews with people from more than half a century ago. Without her thoroughly researched thesis for Master of Arts at Victoria University in 1980 our picture of the short sharp growth of those brief early days would have been sparse indeed. It has been very satisfying to track her down in Australia and to have her permission to draw heavily on her work and the valuable archive documents that are appended to it.

With all my limitations, it has been a privilege to be able to pull together some of the threads of the story of the movement. I offer the result as a tribute to men and women who were caught up in a dream about a unique and dramatic community service and would stop at nothing to bring it about.

To the memory of the steam budgeters, their helpers and supporters and their long-suffering families, this modest publication is gratefully dedicated.

Dave Mullan — October, 2015

President NZFFBS 1979-1983

Member HBAC 1978-1988



The origins of organised family budgeting have been very obscure to most people in recent decades. Informal budgeting services have been operating from at least the time of the great depression of the 1930s. Churches and social service groups of all kinds assisted people with day to day needs, mostly by way of gifts of food and household necessities. But family budgeting, as an organised exercise of helping people to manage their money and, especially, paying off debt, did not really exist before World War II. The post-depression years were a time when finding food and shelter was the central issue and hire purchase was virtually unknown.


The period after the war was the time in which family budgeting along the lines of today’s vast operations was conceived. The inimitable Buck Pound, although he had worked in the bank before being called up for war service, said that he had to seek help from a neighbour to manage his finances in civvy street. He was advised to use the little tins system. Being a banker, he began to explore other ways of budgeting and accounting for spending in categories.

Another pioneer budgeter of that era was a builder and was engaged to erect some of the half-houses that were provided on a few dozen acres of land for demobbed veterans. He found that some of the people he helped to settle on the land also needed help to budget to repay their commitment.

After the lean years when families lived from payday to payday the postwar decades were a time of a naive kind of prosperity. This was built largely on tariff protection of industries and expensive goods, subsidies to keep prices of essential commodities like bread and milk down to affordable levels, and relatively good overseas income based largely on primary products from the rural sector. In this relatively comfortable period, when families could aspire to more than the basic necessities, the principle of hire purchase was becoming established. The writer remembers that, apart from the mortgage for a modest first home in 1936, his father claimed to have only ever bought one item on hire purchase—it was a washing machine. However, he may have overlooked their ex-fleet Model C car which was probably paid off by deductions from his salary at Ford Motor Coy. Here, and at many factories and businesses, overtime was readily available for those who wished to save for their extras or reduce a long-term debt.

In the mid 1950s many families were living in excellent rental houses provided by the State. Entire suburbs of families of the same age and situation would later provide a source of tension but, for the moment, it seemed that anything was possible. In later years

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