Hi Waipori they do come up for sale very occasionally but are not common.
You will read a lot about packages in overseas literature because in places like America they have huge hive losses, I think they average 30% or more of their hives dying each season. So they need just pure bees without extra equipment to re stock the hives as they already have the empty hives sitting there.
In NZ an organized package bee industry has never happened, other than for export, I believe we export between 30 to 70 tons of live bees annually.
I never knew Bill but I used to know his son Malcolm pretty well. It's interesting the effects inflation has on money over time. I suspect that when most young people in the Kiwi Saver scheme go to get their money out they will find there's a lot there but it's not worth much. I have been peripherally involved with package bees for export but never with local supply. Nucleus hives have a lot of advantages although there must be some health benefits from getting package bees especially if you start with everything brand spanking new. Properly easier to get your name on the local swarm list if you just want bees.