New Zealand wool boom

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The New Zealand Wool Boom of 1951 was one of the greatest economic booms in the history of New Zealand, and the direct result of United States policy in the 1950–53 Korean War.

In 1950, as a result of the Korean War, the United States sought to buy large quantities of wool to complete its strategic stockpiles. This led to the greatest wool boom in New Zealand's history, with prices tripling overnight.[1] In 1951 New Zealand experienced economic growth such as has never been seen again since.[2] The echoes of the boom reverberated into the late 1950s, by which time a record number of farms were in operation.[3]

The export price of wool declined by 40% in 1966,[4] however New Zealand's sheep population continued to rise. From a total of 34.8 million in 1951, sheep numbers rose dramatically to peak at 70.3 million in 1982.[5] However the subsequent free market reforms of the Fourth Labour Government, and the associated removal of agricultural subsidies, saw numbers decline even quicker than they had risen. By 2004 the national flock had dropped to a total of 39.3 million,[6] the lowest in 50 years.

Recent years have seen the number increase again for the first time since 1982. New Zealand's sheep population stood at 40.1 million as of June 2006.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ New Zealand History Online: Impact of the War - NZ in the Korean War, accessed 29 May 2007
  2. ^ John McDermott, Motu Public Policy Seminar Series: The Evolution of the New Zealand Business Cycle: Returning to a Golden Age?, 17 March 2005
  3. ^ Professor Tom Brooking, The Evolution of the New Zealand Business Cycle: Returning to a Golden Age?, RM Update, Issue 18, 18 April 2006
  4. ^ Te Ara Encyclopedia, The European economy: a history, Accessed 29 May 2007
  5. ^ Stats NZ, Agricultural Production Statistics to 2002
  6. ^ Stats NZ, Agricultural Production Statistics (Final) (June 2004) - Media Release
  7. ^ Stats NZ, Agricultural Production Statistics (Final)