Skip to main content
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.



Difficulties of Pioneer Papers

The press in its early days was motley, although some papers were excellent examples of printing. Meagre supplies of paper were responsible for some ludicrous or wry occurrences. For many weeks, for example, the Spectator was obliged to appear on red blotting paper, and the porous material took the inked type remarkably well. Sometimes the printers were compelled to print on paper of variable size, material and colour, and specimens are still in existence printed in green and blue, such as might be used nowadays on posters.

The Auckland Times, established on 5 September 1842 and owned and edited by Henry Falwasser, was an extraordinary specimen. For 10 numbers everything went well; then Shortland once more stepped in and prevented the use of the printing plant which had been bought by the Government and was then being used for the paper. But Falwasser was an ingenious and resourceful man. He gathered a miscellaneous assortment of old type, most of it suitable for printing headlines and advertisements. With the aid of a mangle and coarse paper he triumphantly produced his paper once more. Sometimes the pressure of the mangle was so violent that ink was driven right through the paper and words of the letterpress could be read there by reversal; sometimes it was so faint the words were barely legible. Words were printed with letters of various type, so that small capitals, italics, and Old English met together in the same word, producing a comical and often mystifying result. Nevertheless, “the paper afforded great amusement, and doubtless had a good circulation, especially as it lashed out to the complete satisfaction of the public”.

On one occasion the printer of the Nelson Examiner appealed to the paper's readers:

sic Examiner

The appeal must have had some response, for the following number of the paper appeared on its due date. An advertisement in another paper read:


As publication was not interrupted, paper must have come from somewhere. The Otago Witness was not so fortunate. It appealed at least once to its readers for paper of any kind, “otherwise it will cease to appear”. The worst happened, and the Witness temporarily retired from the scene.