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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



Politics and the Early Press

Politicians established four important papers in the South Island. The first was the Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle which, like Revans's Gazette, was a New Zealand Company production. It came out for the first time on 12 March 1842 and its editors and contributors included such well-known political figures as Alfred Domett, William Fox, Edward Stafford, F. D. Bell, and J. C. Richmond. For nearly 10 years it was the only vehicle of settlement expression in the south.

The Canterbury Association made similar arrangements for printing a newspaper as had the New Zealand Company; and when type and press were set up a few days after the arrival of four emigrant ships at Lyttelton, the Lyttelton Times appeared. This was on 11 January 1851. James Edward FitzGerald, later to be first superintendent of the province, was its editor in the beginning, but he left it after two years for a full political life. In 1861, concluding that the Canterbury Provincial Government, which was supported by the Lyttelton Times, was pursuing an unwise monetary policy – particularly with regard to the raising of a loan to bore a railway tunnel through hills separating Lyttelton and Christchurch – he and a syndicate founded the Press as an opposition pamphlet. The Press Co. bought out the renamed Lyttelton Times in 1935 and wound it up.

The Otago settlement, which was founded in 1848, had for a short time its own newspaper, the Otago News, edited and produced by H. B. Graham. His early death saw the end of the News which, however, took shape again as the Otago Witness in 1851.

From 1848 onwards, several other papers appeared in Dunedin; but not until the vigorous and large ideas of Julius Vogel began to be applied to the Otago Daily Times, did a long-lived paper appear. There was no preliminary weekly, or bi-weekly; it appeared on 15 November 1861 as New Zealand's first full-fledged daily. Vogel was part-owner, but edited both the daily and its weekly companion, the Otago Witness.

Many newspapers were originally family owned, but most are now controlled by limited-liability public companies, some with stock exchange listings. Family ownership is largely confined to the smaller provincial papers: for example, the Bells, of the Ashburton Guardian, and the Muirs, of the Gisborne Herald. The outstanding exception among the metropolitans is the Wellington Evening Post. The Post was established by Henry Blundell, a Dubliner, in 1865, and “by concentrating on newspaper production as a vocation the Blundell family steadily consolidated its position.” The founder made it a rule of the business, followed in general by his successors, to take no direct part in public life. He believed that if this rule was followed the paper and the men who conducted it would be free to criticise, if necessary, the conduct of public bodies and companies.

Six other New Zealand papers existed when the Taranaki Herald's first issue was printed on 4 August 1852; only the Herald remains to this day. It was founded by William Collins, formerly a printer working for the London Morning Post, and by Garland William Woon, a 21-year-old printer who had served his apprenticeship in the composing room of the New Zealander. Woon was nominally the editor. William Morgan Crompton, sub-editor, was the third member of the staff.