Many know of the Auckland newspapers The New Zealand Herald and the Auckland Star. Others may have heard of the Southern Cross or Weekly News. But were you aware that at least 16 other newspapers were published in Auckland between 1841 and 1880?
Auckland's first newspaper
In December 1840, the first government broadsheet, Gazette Extraordinary, was published by Lieutenant Governor William Hobson for the purposes of disseminating information about land and other issues.
New Zealand became a Crown Colony of Great Britain (independent of New South Wales) on 3 May 1841. By July Auckland was the capital and on 10 July 1841 Auckland residents were able to read the first issue of their first newspaper - the New Zealand Herald and Auckland Gazette
Half of the shareholders and nearly all of the trustees of this paper were officials, some of whom have very familiar names even now - Shortland, Felton Mathew and Symonds. These officials tried to dominate the editorial to ensure the Colonial Administration was shown in the most positive light.
However by January 1842, the newspaper was publishing an alternative perspective on the crown's governance.
The paper's third editor, Samuel M. Martin, had negotiated complete control over the published content. Martin looked directly at Auckland and the Administration and highlighted irregularities and potential corruption in land deals. The trustees were so incensed that in April 1842 they closed the paper, which was barely 9 months old.
The Auckland Times, published by Henry Falwasser, lasted a little longer from 28 August 1842 to 17 January 1846. The Crown initially supported Falwasser and allowed him use of their printing press. However he was also to fall foul of the Administration due to the 'doubtful odour' of articles. Having been banned from the use of their press, he cranked out a number of issues using a washing mangle and a variety of typefaces on extremely coarse paper. He was eventually able to get to Australia and purchase his own type and printing press. Falwasser was truly an enterprising and courageous journalist and publisher.
The Auckland Times: printed on a mangle
Auckland's colonial-era newspapers
This set the scene for newspaper publishing in Auckland for much of the first years of the colony. Most of the papers were critical of the government and the Administration did everything in their power to stifle that criticism.
Other papers had a variety of owners and differing strengths:
The Auckland Chronicle and New Zealand Colonist (8 November 1841-13 February 1845) was started in competition to the New Zealand Herald and Auckland Gazette and managed to last a few years. It was considered one of the colony's best literary papers of the day.
The New Zealander (7 June 1845-May 1866) was the main competitor to the Southern Cross and set up to represent the 'average settler' and champion for the rights of Māori. By 1859 it was the most influential paper in the colony and in 1863 became a daily paper. It was highly critical of the government and the New Zealand wars.
The Aucklander (2 May 1861-11 April 1863) was started by James Busby as a channel to advocate for his claims to land in the north.
The Weekly News (5 December 1863-6 January 1877) was the forerunner to the Auckland Weekly News (1877-1934). Prior to 1898 the Weekly News and the Auckland Weekly News were not highly illustrated.
The Documentary Heritage Collection at Auckland Museum has issues from most of the early Auckland newspapers; including a first issue of the New Zealand Herald.
Day, P. (1990)The making of the New Zealand Press: a study of the organizational and political concerns of New Zealand newspaper controllers, 1840 - 1880. Wellington.
Scholefield, G. H. (1958) Newspapers in New Zealand. Wellington.
Cite this article
Heritage Auckland newspapers. Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira. First published: 6 July 2015. Updated: 20 August 2019.
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