Our History

We’re proud of our long history in New Zealand – over 90 years of being at the heart of Marlborough and more recently in other regions as well. Community is everything, and we were actually formed, way back in 1923, because our predecessors didn’t think the Government was giving our community a fair go.

1923 – Government says ‘no’. Marlborough Electric Board says ‘yes ‘

In 1923 the Government of the day refused to provide a state supply of electricity to Marlborough. Locals petitioned the Government and the Marlborough Electric Power Board became a reality on 25 October, 1923.

A board was elected, and electricity supply soon followed to the Borough of Blenheim and the Marlborough and Awatere Counties

1927  - First hydro, then diesel

The first hydro scheme was commissioned in 1927 on the remote Waihopai River, about 25 miles from Blenheim, and provided the only supply. Because of the fluctuating river flow in the Waihopai River, and as demand grew, diesel generation was added.

'Harnessing the Waihopai' publication and photograph

1983 – Marlborough grows and we grow with it

Further hydro generation was established in 1983, at the Branch River, west of Blenheim.

1993 – Corporatisation and a name change

In 1993 New Zealand’s electric power boards were corporatised under Government decree. The Marlborough Electric Power Board became Marlborough Electric Limited, trading as Marlborough Electric.
Ownership of the shares was vested in the Marlborough Electric Power Trust, a body specifically created to hold the company’s shares on behalf of electricity consumers. 
In 1996 an investment opportunity arose with the sale of the Nelson city electricity network, Nelson Electricity Limited. Marlborough Electric, in partnership with Tasman Energy (now Network Tasman), were successful in their joint bid, with each acquiring a 50% share of Nelson Electricity. 
Still more industry reorganisation followed and in 1998, against its wishes and those of the community, Marlborough Electric was forced to sell its generation assets and electricity trading business, to become an electricity network owner and operator as a consequence of the Bradford Reforms. 

1999 – A name to reflect our business

In March 1999, Marlborough Electric Limited became Marlborough Lines Limited reflecting the change in our operations. Since then, we have concentrated on the ownership and operation of the Marlborough electricity reticulation system, adding investment in an electricity network in the Otago region, as well as a shareholding investment in the listed electricity network Horizon Energy Distribution Limited.  

2014 - Good investments pay off

During September 2014, Marlborough Lines sold its 51% stake in the Otago network for the sum of $152.82m after having purchased this shareholding in 2002 for $54.57m.

2015-2018 - Broadening our investment base

In 2015 Marlborough Lines sold its Horizon Energy Distribution shareholding.

In July 2015 Marlborough Lines broadened its investment base by acquiring an 80% shareholding in the Marlborough based Yealands Wine Group. This investment was increased to 86% in 2016, and on 29 June 2018 Marlborough Lines acquired the remaining shares to achieve complete 100% ownership.

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