The New Zealand Optical Wholesalers Association (NZOWA) was formed in the late 1950s to represent the optical industry when lobbying government for more liberal import licence grants and for the removal of import duties and sales taxes as most optical goods were imported into N.Z. at that time. That included spectacle frames, lenses both finished and semi-finished, sunglasses, spectacle cases and other accessories and sight testing instruments and laboratory equipment.
The NZOWA managed to have sight testing instruments, some laboratory equipment and all lenses types removed from licensing and duties but spectacle frames, sunglass and some accessories were not. The purchase of instruments and equipment was also limited as the purchase of overseas funds was controlled by the Reserve Bank at the time.
This situation lasted for over 15 years when plastic spectacle frame manufacturing in N.Z ceased and when import licence and duties were removed. The original membership of the NZOWA at the time of formations was Arthur Cocks, Dominion Optical Supplies, Hannaford & Burton, J&B Optical, Morgan & Hall, New Zealand Optical, Standard Optical Company of Australasia, and Wholesale Distributors.
Over the years the aims and objectives of the NZOWA have been to represent the interests of its members and to co-operate with other optical interests within the wider community when and where applicable.
In 2015 it was decided to up-date the constitution which is now in operation as the original rules drafted in the 1950s, were no longer applicable. There was an update in October 1984 when the NZOWA became an incorporated society. Some minor changes were made in 1991.
The original 1950s membership of seven has expanded to 31 members as at 31 January 2016.
The Objectives for which the NZOWA is established are:
- To actively promote, foster, encourage and maintain the highest professional and ethical standards of wholesaling, manufacturing and distributing optical goods and services in New Zealand;
- To promote cooperation between members, suppliers and users of optical appliances, equipment products and services;
- To plan, organise and coordinate optical trade fairs and conferences and cooperate with other associations and organizations who are commissioning similar activities.