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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.



Historical Development

Telegraph news was first transmitted in Canterbury more than a hundred years ago. In 1859 James Edward FitzGerald, who was Canterbury Agent in London, sent out 20 miles of wire, batteries, insulators, and 250 iron poles for a line to connect Lyttelton with Christchurch. The equipment was set up by George Holmes and Co., of Melbourne, for £1,405; and the line was opened on 1 July 1862. In 1865 the Central Government built an electric telegraph in the South Island. FitzGerald, who owned the Christchurch Press, arranged for his brother Gerard to use the telegraph to transmit the general telegraphic news. In the autumn of that year G. FitzGerald and Co. began operations from Campbelltown, Bluff Harbour, under the name of the New Zealand General Telegraphic Agency. The agency's first news telegram was a summary of news prepared in Melbourne; it arrived in Christchurch on 21 May 1865. The Lyttelton Times and Canterbury Standard joined the Press in receiving the agency's telegrams, with the object of cutting costs and avoiding expensive competition. Five years later Julius Vogel, Colonial Treasurer and Postmaster-General in the Fox Ministry, introduced a free news-wire system for a short time. The Government soon saw a chance of making money from press traffic.