Leading New Zealand economic research company BERL next week celebrates 60 years in business with a special event in Wellington.
BERL was founded by Bryan Philpott, then an economist with the New Zealand Meat and Wool Board's economic service; Hew Walls, a staffer in the Reserve Bank; and Norman Macbeth, editor of the Christchurch Press; opened for business in November 1957 with the distribution of the prototype issue of Trends, later to become BERL forecasts.
Current BERL chief economist Ganesh Nana says that first issue, in the shadow of the 1957 general election, predicted grim times ahead.
"With the confirmation of the forecast crisis and the subsequent infamous Nordmeyer Black Budget, BERL's reputation was immediately established" Dr Nana says.
"While the BERL founders have long since passed, their ethos of making sense of the numbers remains alive and at the core of BERL today.
"We overhauled the measurement of the Māori economy asset base for Te Puni Kōkiri. Newly devised methodology supported by international peer review saw the 2010 measure of $36.9billion being widely adopted as a benchmark. This measure was subsequently updated for the 2013 year to $42.6billion.
"We continue to regularly provide the local government sector forecasts of costs facing the sector for use in council annual plans. We measured - for WWF New Zealand - the transition costs involved in moving to alternative dolphin-friendly fishing methods.
"The Māui dolphin is one of New Zealand's most endangered animals with an estimated 63 dolphins over one year of age and are only found on the west coast.
"Work for the New Zealand Housing Foundation highlighted the potential gains to the government's finances - in terms of reduced health care costs, welfare payments, and crime costs, and increased tax revenues - arising from the improved outcomes of those in owner-occupier housing.
"We have provided regular impact assessments for the Taranaki Arts Festival Trust across the range of their events including WOMAD and the Garden Festival.
"We are proud to renew our corporate patrons' sponsorship of the New Zealand Festival and are excited about the 2018 event and to providing economic research and advisory services to assist in its success.
"Over the past years BERL has tackled many challenges and opportunities. We are proud to remain a fiercely independent New Zealand owned, Wellington-based research consultancy business.
"There are probably not many New Zealand owned commercial small to medium enterprises that have completed 60 years in business, so we believe it is a milestone worthy of celebration.
"We know BERL was first in New Zealand in the economic forecasting and research consultancy game. We have seen in office 14 prime ministers, 13 governors-general, 13 finance ministers, 11 Treasury secretaries and nine Reserve Bank governors.
"While some of these office holders may or may not change in the near future, BERL fully intends to outlast many more.
"BERL remains true to our vision to make a difference. Economics is not about finance, nor about dollars and cents. It is about people, their communities, and their potential. We strive to make a difference by helping people and their communities realise their potential," Dr Nana says.