Press Release – Colin James
Sir Frank Holmes, a distinguished and influential economist and policy adviser to many governments, died on 23 October, aged 87.Sir Frank Holmes, a distinguished and influential economist and policy adviser to many governments, died on 23 October, aged 87. Sir Frank Holmes, a distinguished and influential economist and policy adviser to many governments, died on 23 October, aged 87.
Sir Frank’s studies were interrupted by war. He joined the airforce at 18 and flew bombers in the Pacific. He switched to economics on his return, graduating master of arts from Otago University and into marriage with Nola, the university students association’s lady vice-president. He taught at Victoria University from 1952-67, the first seven years as a lecturer under the legendary Horace Belshaw, and then as Macarthy Professor of Economics and returned as Professor of Money and Finance from 1970-77. He was economic adviser to the Royal Commission Monetary, Banking and Credit Systems in 1955, set up in response to the rise of the Social Credit Political League.
He served two terms on the Monetary and Economic Council, set up in 1961 by the Holyoake government to provide independent economic commentary and advice — generally arguing for a moderately more open and more lightly regulated economy. That included international economics and trade, which built on Sir Frank’s initial employment in the Department of Prime Minister and External Affairs Department from 1949-52. Sir Frank was involved in the debates leading up to the 1960s and 1980s trade agreements with Australia, concessions to New Zealand upon Britain’s entry in the European Economic Community (now the European Union) and Asia-Pacific cooperation.
Sir Frank was adviser to the Parry Committee on Universities in 1959 which led to the splitting up of the University of New Zealand into six universities and three-year funding, a member of the Council for Educational Research from 1967-75 and chair 1972-75, including chairing the advisory committee for the Educational Development Conference 1975. He chaired the Task Force on Economic and Social Planning in 1976 and then the Planning Council 1977-82. He headed a taskforce on health workforce planning in the late 1990s.
He was a founder of the Institute of Policy Studies at Victoria University where, among other activities, he wrote a series of studies of trade relationships with senior officers of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. He was the first chair of what is now the Asia New Zealand Foundation.
He was knighted in 1975 for services to economics and education. He was a distinguished fellow of the Association of Economists and won the Institute of Economic Research-Qantas award for excellence in economics in 1995
Sir Frank was economics and planning manager at Tasman Pulp and Paper Company 1967-70 and director and chair of a number of private sector boards, including chairing the National Bank of New Zealand’s Southpac Finance subsidiary and the Norwich Union Group in New Zealand. He wrote a three-volume history of the National Bank in 2003. He founded The Hugo Group in 1983 and chaired it from 1989 to 2009. He was a distinguished fellow of the Institute of Directors.
Sir Frank was made a justice of the peace in 1960 and awarded two honorary doctorates, one in laws by Otago University in 1997 and one in commerce by Victoria University in 2004.
Sir Frank is survived by his son Ross, 9 grandchildren, and 12 great grandchildren. A service will be held in St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Wellington, on Monday at 1pm.
Issued by Colin James on behalf of Ross Holmes