'Black Tuesday' share-market crash

20 October 1987

Wellington Stock Exchange during the crash, 1987 (Alexander Turnbull Library, EP/1987/5914/9a-F)

Billions of dollars were wiped off the value of New Zealand shares in the weeks following 20 October, as the shockwaves of a sharp drop in New York’s Wall St stockmarket rippled around the world.

The 1987 Hollywood blockbuster Wall Street is the archetypal portrayal of the financial wheeling and dealing – not to mention excess – of the 1980s. New Zealand may not have had anyone quite as ruthless as ‘corporate raider’ Gordon Gekko, but many New Zealanders thrived in these deregulated times. The National Business Review published its first New Zealand ‘rich list’ in 1986.

But the boom times went bust in October that year. Many investors lost everything as companies that had over-extended themselves were dragged under. Small ‘mum and dad’ investors were also burned by the experience; many deserted the share market, which languished until the early 2000s.

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