Our History

Established in 1919, our history can be traced against the backdrop of the ever-changing landscape of rural New Zealand. From our country's political and economic policies to innovations in farming and business, we have evolved with the times and continue to build a deep sense of knowledge and belief in our clients and their businesses which is now inherently part of our own DNA.

We are as proud of our history as we are of that of our country and communities which is why we have chosen to share it here with you too.

We hope you enjoy this step back down memory lane as much as we have enjoyed putting it together for you...


  • 2022

    After receiving the Nuffield Scholarship in 2020, Shannon experienced COVID-related delays to the project to restrictions on overseas travel. As restrictions eased within New Zealand, she was able to produce an impressive report on plant variety rights (PVR) with domestic research that was published in 2022.

    PVRs grant the rights to propagate and sell the products of a specific variety of a plant for a set period of time, and to licence others to grow and sell the product. Understanding these rights is important in the horticulture industry, and Shannon’s report on the value that PVRs contribute to our primary sector is a valuable resource. You can read more about her research here.

  • 2021

    In 2020, the world seemed to grind to a halt as the first wave of COVID-19 swept the globe. Working from home soon became the norm, which has changed how New Zealanders
    do business.


  • 2020

    Rural Accountants Director Shannon Harnett was awarded 1 of 5 prestigious Nuffield Farming Scholarships for 2020. A highly sought-after New Zealand primary industry scholarship, it is a global scholarship with all results feeding back to the NZ agri-food sector. 

    Experienced in dairy, sheep, beef, & horticulture, as well as having involvement  in several horticultural start-up businesses, Shannon believes NZ has an exciting opportunity to grow high value, consumer driven produce. Her plan is to research the value that Plant Variety Rights could contribute to our primary sector. 

  • 2019

    Rural Accountants turns 100!

    What would Archie Runciman make of so many women in accounting  nowadays? 

    More than half of all New Zealand accounting graduates are women and the tipping point, where women will outnumber men in the profession, is not far away.    



  • 2018

    Christine, Frans and Shannon formed a three-way partnership called Rural Accountants Limited Partnership.​

    Rural Accountants purchased two Whakatane accounting firms; Brian Ritchie Accounting Services in April and John Banbury's Prideaux & Co in June.




  • 2017

    Frans Els joined the practice, based in the Waipukurau office.

  • 2017

    Shannon Harnett (Christine’s daughter) returned to the practice and opened a second branch in Whakatane.

  • 2016

    The name of the practice changed from Donald & Associates to Rural Accountants Limited.

  • 2014

    Christine married Ian Craig, a kiwifruit orchardist and co-founder of OPAC in Opotiki.

  • 2010s

    The 2010s began with the Pike River Mine incident and the PSA-V outbreak that devastated the kiwifruit industry in 2010, followed by  a 6.3 magnitude earthquake in Christchurch in 2011. ​

    In 2017, the first outbreak of M. Bovis saw 182 farms affected.​ This was also the year Jacinda Ardern lead Labour to victory with a coalition government. She was New Zealand's 3rd female Prime Minister. ​

    ​2019 brought good news as export earnings reached highest ever recorded to a total of $5.7 billion.




  • 2009

    The practice opened an additional branch at Waipukurau, operating solely from Waipukurau from 2014.

  • 2007

    Murray Donald, Christine’s husband, was tragically killed in a tractor accident on the farm at Motea.


  • 2006

    Grant Ingram retired. Christine ran the practice alone, changing the name to Donald & Associates.

  • 2005

    Christine & Murray purchased another 1250 acre farm at Kumeroa, east of Woodville.

  • 2000

    Christine & Murray won the Scanpower Business Excellence Awards, winning both the farming and the overall business sections.

  • 2000s

    The 2000s began with big changes to farming as the dairy industry was deregulated and two dairy companies merged to form Fonterra.  The first cow was milked with an Automatic Milking System in 2001. ​

    In 2003 the  Dairying and Clean Stream Accord highlighted freshwater pollution  due to dairy farming. A tax on agricultural gas emissions was proposed. ​

    In 2008 the Global Financial Crisis began to effect world markets and John Key led the National Party to victory in the General Election.​ By 2009 New Zealand was experiencing the longest recession in the country's history.

  • 1996

    Christine & Murray sold their farm at Wimbledon and purchased 1,000 acres at Motea, much closer to Dannevirke.  Christine & Murray became Tararua’s first Monitor Farm, a programme run by Meat & Wool NZ to help pass knowledge from the experts to the farmers.

  • 1996

    John Clarke retired, leaving Christine and Grant running the practice – now known as Clarke Ingram & Donald.

  • 1994

    Christine Donald (Christine Craig since remarriage in 2014) joined the practice. 


  • 1990s

    National began the decade with their success in the 1990 New Zealand general election. ​​The following year, the Resource Management Act 1991 was enacted. 

    National won the 1993 General Election. It was New Zealand's last election under first past the post. ​They retained leadership in 1996 under the mixed-member-proportional (MMP) system. Jim Bolger was usurped by Jenny Shipley in 1997.​

    The decade closed with New Zealand’s 2nd woman Prime Minister, Helen Clark, leading Labour to victory in the 1999 General Election

  • 1984

    Christine and Murray Donald purchased their first “economic” farm at Wimbledon, Central Hawkes Bay.

  • 1980

    Grant Ingram joined the practice and became a partner in 1992 – the practice was known as Ruby Clarke & Ingram.

  • 1980s

    1980 began with a wage, price and rent freeze that lasted until 1984.​

    Prime Minister Robert Muldoon called a snap election in 1984, which led David Lange and Labour to victory. 

    In 1986 Goods and Services Tax  was introduced​

    Black Tuesday, the greatest Stock Market Crash in recent memory, took place in 1987. 

    Lange resigned in 1989 and Geoffrey Palmer became Prime Minister.


  • 1970s

    ​​The 1972 General election saw a Second Labour Government elected, ending the National Party’s 4 consecutive terms in power. National regained power in the ​1975 general election.

    In 1976 the metric system was introduced.​

    In 1977 The Livestock Incentive Scheme encouraged the farming of more livestock, aimed to keep farmers in the industry.  This was followed by the Supplementary Minimum Price Scheme in 1978 to provide minimum income guarantees to farmers. Land development and use of fertiliser were encouraged. The decade ended with a strong push to keep Kiwis on farms.

  • 1969

    John Clarke joined the practice and worked with Harold Ruby till he retired in 1975 – the practice was known as Ruby & Clarke.

  • 1963

    Frank Skipper and Norman Webley retired, leaving Harold Ruby practising on his own.

  • 1960s

    The National-led Holyoake government was in power from 1960 to 1972.

    New Zealand's armed combat forces join the Vietnam War between 1964 to 1968, sparking protests at home. Force numbers kept to a minimum, troop withdrawals began in late 1972.  ​​

    Decimal currency was introduced in 1967.​

    ​Taranaki farmer Merv Hicks developed the first turnstile milking system in 1969– forerunner to the rotary.​

  • 1950

    Frank Skipper joined the practice.

  • 1950s

    The 1950s started with the deployment of forces to the Korean War. In 1951,the wool boom hit and tanker delivery of whole milk from farms to factory began. ​Dairy farming intensified in 1952 when Waikato farmer Ron Sharp developed the herringbone dairy. 

    National presided over a steady rise in the average standard of living; by 1957 New Zealand was called "a materialist's paradise.”

    The 1957 General Election went to Walter Nash as he lead the Second Labour Government to victory.​

    ​In 1958, PAYE tax was introduced.

  • 1940s

    The number of women in NZ employed during 1939 to 1945 increased by 50% due to the men being away at war. 

    In 1947, New Zealand gained full independence from Britain. Aerial topdressing was introduced the same yea. Many aspects of farming were revolutionised in 1948 with the arrival of the first Ferguson tractor.​

    The 1949 General Election voting saw the start of New Zealand's First National Government, led by Sidney Holland.​

  • 1939

    Mr H Rowe Dingle joined the practice – he retired in 1950.

  • 1935

    Harold Ruby joins the practice.

  • 1930s

    The 1930s were a decade of change in government and social support programmes. ​The First Labour Government of New Zealand was elected under Michael Joseph Savage. It was in power from 1935 to 1949. National Party formed from former Coalition MPs.​

    The First commercial orchards of Chinese gooseberries (later known as kiwifruit) were established in 1936.​

    World War II started in 1939 with war declared on Germany by Britain and France with Allied Forces, including New Zealand and Australia, joining days later.


  • 1924

    Archie Runciman was joined by Norman Webley – Archie Runciman retired in 1930.

  • 1919

    The practice was established in Dannevirke by Archie Runciman, a past mayor of Dannevirke.

  • 1920s

    Sometimes referred to as New Zealand’s “coming of age” decade, the 1920s were politically and economically unsettled. In 1921, recession hit. The Reform Party retained power in the 1922 election through coalition. 

    1928 saw the newly re-named Liberal Party succeed in the general election. Reform took Labour’s long-standing stance as opposition.​

    ​Income tax was levied on farmers, prior to this farmers were exempt because of heavy land tax.​

What Our Customers Think

Great local Accountants. They provide an excellent service with great explanations for the layman. They provide accounting services for non rural clients too.

Quinn Wilson, Restaurant Owner, The Wagon
What Our Customers Think

Rural Accountants is a real asset to our business.

The team at Rural Accountants pretty much manage all our administrative tasks for the group including payroll and tax planning, ensuring we don’t pay any more than necessary. They are at the forefront of technology and have helped us get up and running with Xero and Figured which is much more efficient than the way we used to work.

Sam Jones, Managing Director, Sybton Farm Ltd Partnership
What Our Customers Think

Christine is very knowledgeable, great to deal with and knows our business well. She is also a sheep & beef farmer so knows the industry really well and understands our needs.

Rural Accountants keeps us on track through strategic and forward planning meetings throughout the year. Christine knows our business inside out so she can deal with our questions instantly.

Mathew & Gemma Barham, Hawke’s Bay Farmer of the Year 2012
What Our Customers Think

What Our Customers Think

I used to work out my GST and process it manually which would take me at least a full day every two months. The team set up reconcilliation rules and other quick tools, and showed me how to do all my reconcilliations and process my GST returns through Xero which now takes me no time at all!

Mike O'Neill, Financial Services Northland Ltd
What Our Customers Think

As a farmer, Christine understands our business and how farmers and growers operate.

We use Rural Accountants to provide a full accounting service to an orcharding partnership which operates a number of orchards with a wide spread of varieties and management systems. Rural Accountants are always timely and accurate, and their annual financial accounts are extremely easy to understand and very grower-friendly.

Paul Jones, Orchardist