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Panpa Bulletin : August 2006
12 | PANPA bULLETIN august 2006 NEWS Many newspapers have come and gone, but The Wanganui Chronicle still publishes after 150 years. New Zealand's oldest surviving newspaper - and the district's voice - began life as a four-page tabloid publication on Thursday, Septem- ber 18, 1856. A century-and-a-half later and the morning daily is plan- ning a big celebration to mark the sesquicentennial on the weekend of September 16-17 this year. Titled the Wanganui Chronicle and Rangitikei Messenger, it was designed as a weekly but the sec- ondissue wasdelayedandfollowed a fortnight later. After four years it was a bi-weekly, and by the late 1860s a tri-weekly. Finally by 1871, The Chronicle appeared daily. In 1874 it even published on Christmas Day, stealing a march on its competitor, The Herald, in extending Christmas greetings to readers. Preceded only by the tiny Wan- ganui Record of 1853, which lasted only weeks, The Chroni- cle blossomed from a four-page weekly demi-folio size, through an eight-pager at the turn of the 20th century, to a daily multiple-page broadsheet, always covering local, national and international events. Its initial publication reflected the importance the settlers placed on knowing what was happening in the world around them and the keen interest they maintained in international events, particularly in their homelands of Britain and Europe. First makeshift press The first copies were printed on a handmade makeshift press con- structed of maire wood and iron, the brainchild of a schoolmaster, a handyman settler, and senior school pupils. It was soon replaced with printing machinery bought in Sydney and shipped across the Tasman. The wooden type was hand-set, a labour-intensive contrast to the computerised, off-set press pub- lication of today. Between these extremes The Chronicle was set in linotype and rolled off a litho- graphic press. The early paper was delivered to town subscribers, at sixpence a copy when bagged flour cost 25 shillings for 100 pounds (two pounds or about one kilogram for sixpence), similar to today when the paper costs $1 a copy and flour $1 a kilogram. The paper's editor and author of The Wanganui Chronicle Pro- spectus, Henry Stokes, told readers because the paper was intended as a source of generally useful infor- mation he decided then to avoid a party political bias, content instead to "place all sides of the question before its readers". Letters to the editor were encouraged, providing they were 'authenticated' and were 'subject to the approbation of the editor". A'NOTICE' at the top of the front page and a prospectus below an- nounced that it would be mailed to 'every part of the Colony', to the major Australian settlements, in- cluding "Van Dieman's Land (Tas- mania) and Swan River (Perth), as well as Mauritius, the Cape of Good Hope, Great Britain and Ireland, the United States, India, and China by every available opportunity". It would be "circulated through- out New Zealand, the Austral- ian Colonies, and the East Indies, and...filed at the Jerusalem Coffee House, London, and at the Cham- bers of Commerce of Liverpool, Dublin and Glasgow". Advertisements, which filled about half of the paper, cost one shilling for four lines, three-pence for every line afterwards, and one penny a line for subsequent inser- tions of the same advertisement. Unless advertisers stated how many insertions they wanted on the first advertisement, they could run up quite a bill since the ad would be inserted until the news- paper was told otherwise. According to Mr Stokes, the dis- trict's inhabitants had long felt the need for "such a channel of com- munication" which would provide innumerable advantages. This in- cluded 'Auctioneers, Settlers, Store- keepers &c' being able to advertise sales of 'Land, Cattle, Sheep and other Stock". Advertisements appeared on front and back pages.They covered items essential in the young colo- nial town, ranging from agricul- tural items such as saddles, bridles, drays, carts, and stallions available for stud, alcohol, as well as house- hold goods like window glass, nails, and paint, and personal effects such as jewellery and clothing. Mr W F Jones offered piano tun- ing for the next few weeks, Taylor and Watt announced they bought "all kinds of colonial produce, wood, hides, butter, wheat, oats and barley &c". Robert Hart of- fered a 20 pound reward if anyone could assist in convicting an arson- ist involved in the fire at Bunny's Station, Rangitikei; the schooner, Hannah, had arrived fromWelling- ton and was due to depart for New Plymouth; and the brig, Venture was shortly to sail for Sydney. Chronicling New Zealand’s news for 150 years the Wanganui Chronicle celebrates a milestone of publication in September and looks forward to an even stronger future writes John Maslin The Wanganui Chronicle general manager Andy Jarden and a copy of The Chronicle hot off the press. Cont page 14