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History of MTA

Established in 1917, MTA has developed from a small organisation to become the largest automotive industry body in New Zealand, representing over 4,000 automotive businesses and acting as a strong advocate for motorists.

Our mission today is the same as it was back then – to create a sustainable business advantage for members and to help the motoring public.

Making motoring popular in New Zealand

In the early 1900s, motoring was fairly new to New Zealand; free driving lessons were included with the sale of a new vehicle; replacement parts were fabricated on-site in garage workshops and petrol was sold by the four gallon tin.

On 30 April 1917, Messrs J Bett and E J Wackrill convened a meeting with seven other business owners in the small town of Feilding, to form a national organisation for retail motor traders in New Zealand. One week later, on 7 May, 1917 the meeting resumed in the Feilding Library Committee Room with fifteen representatives. By the end of the meeting the group was named the Garage Proprietors of New Zealand.

One month later a conference was held in Palmerston North with 52 motor traders from all over the North Island attending. Traders throughout New Zealand welcomed the idea of a national motor trade organisation and telegrams and letters promising support came flooding in. The conference was unanimous in declaring support for an association and approved the name and agreed on the purpose of the association. Their initiative led to the rapid establishment of a national automotive body with several branches being established throughout New Zealand.

For several more years the association took on a few different names until finally being named the Motor Trade Association.

Since those early milestones, MTA has grown and evolved rapidly to become the large, well-known and trusted organisation it is today.