NZ History - the first newspaper published

in history •  4 months ago

The New Zealand Gazette

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There was certainly nothing spectacularly 'newsy', as we have become accustomed to today, in this front page.
We have to keep in mind that what was important to readers then is far different to what we have come to expect nowadays.
But it can be a fascinating snapshot of what life was like for those early settlers, far away from their homelands and still in the infancy of creating new communities and setting up systems & infrastructure.

This first newspaper consisted of eight pages, packed full of text and broken only by the occasional illustration.
If you have trouble reading the heading, it was published on Wednesday, August 21, 1839 and cost 9d.
Think it was produced in New Zealand? In fact, it was printed and published in England!
As appears in the bottom right corner of page 8.
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But, Samuel Revans would go on to produce the first NZ-based newspaper once he'd immigrated; and so just a month after he'd arrived in Wellington the first truly-NZ newspaper (although being issue 2) rolled off the presses in Petone on the 18th of April, 1840. He'd raised a loan before leaving London in order to purchase all the equipment necessary to begin printing.
Samuel Revans, c. 1860
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The newspaper underwent several name changes, so it has also been known as the Gazette, the New Zealand Gazette and Britannia Spectator, and the New Zealand Gazette and Wellington Spectator.
Revan's other interests pulled him away from the newspaper, so after a while he appointed a manager to keep it going, but it became unprofitable for him so he leased out the printing equipment and closed down the Gazette in 1844.

The conditions in which the printing press operated. Samuel Revans had first operated out of a tent at the Petone site.
"Te Aro Flat, Wellington, in a sketch made in 1842 by William Mein Smith, chief surveyor for the New Zealand Company and partner of Samuel Revans in his pastoral ventures. The Gazette printing office was one of the group of buildings by Rhode's Wharf and Store. Part 3 of a panorama plate, no 4 of Illustrations to Adventures in New Zealand by E. Jerningham Wakefield (London, 1845)."
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This is that first NZ-produced newspaper's front page.
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This edition consisted of only four pages in total.

Other newspapers sprung up after the Gazette began (some successful, some not); it was certainly an important way for settlers in the colony to not only keep in touch - and stay connected - with the 'old country' but with other regions around the country.
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Samuel Revans wasn't the first settler to begin printing in New Zealand; that honour went to William Colenso, a missionary who resided in the Bay of Islands - but he was printing pamphlets, bibles and prayer books.




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Interesting bit of history. Fun to imagine the men and women that answered those ads for immigrants to New Zealand.