Today, there are only two publications still in existence in New Zealand that began life over 100 years ago.


Dunedin’s daily newspaper, The Otago Daily Times, has the longest history of daily publication in New Zealand. The first edition rolled off the press way back on 15th November 1861. It was founded by Julius (later Sir Julius) Vogel, an Englishman who arrived in New Zealand in 1861when Otago was in the grip of gold fever. The enterprising young man saw immediate possibilities for a daily paper to serve a rapidly growing population flocking to the region as new gold rushes occurred.

He went into partnership with William Cutten, a publisher who had created a weekly newspaper, the Otago Witness, ten years earlier, to form the Otago Daily Times and Witness Newspaper Company. The completion of a telegraph line from Campbelltown (now called Bluff) to Dunedin in August 1862 allowed the Otago Daily Times to gain quicker access to international news as Bluff was the first New Zealand port of call for ships carrying English and Australian newspapers. He arranged for summaries of the foreign news to be prepared by an employee of the Argus newspaper in Melbourne, who then put on a mail ship and then dispatched by telegraph to the ODT when it arrived in Bluff. When the telegraph line reached Hokitika, he also arranged for international news arriving on ships that made landfall there to also be dispatched to Dunedin. Originally, he reserved the information as sole use of the Otago Daily Times.

Opposition dailies appeared from time to time. The Otago Colonist which had previously been a weekly responded by becoming a daily in July 1862. In early January 1863 its owners launched a new daily newspaper called the Daily Telegraph and reverted the Otago Colonist to a weekly with a change of name to the Weekly Colonist. This made Dunedin the first New Zealand city to have two daily newspapers until both the Daily Telegraph and Weekly Colonist closed on 9 April 1864. Twelve weeks later the Otago Daily Mail was launched but it was not competitive and had closed by April 1865. The most successful competitor was the afternoon daily, The Evening Star which first appeared in May 1863 and enjoyed a long life until finally ceasing publication in 1978. At the time of the Evening Star’s demise its holding company had been merged with the Otago Daily Times under the umbrella of Allied Press Limited, which continues to publish the Otago Daily Times and several smaller newspapers today. From its earliest days the Dunedin based newspaper established a reputation for comprehensive coverage of its region and advocacy for regional causes.


Back in a time when the British Empire was an all-powerful force, the young colony of New Zealand looked to Britain for almost everything. Primary school children were informed about the monarchy, international relations and the rights and duties of subjects in peace and war with an emphasis on respecting the ‘Mother Country’. These concepts were present in one form or another, mainly through the teaching of history and literature, from the beginnings of the national system of primary education, but the establishment of the New Zealand School Journal in 1907 provided the means to subject every child in the state school system, and most of those in private schools, to imperialist propaganda which was sustained until the late 1920s. During the 1930s the School Journal began presenting material of a clearly internationalist and even pacifist outlook. By the 50s the School Journal had become predominantly literary in content without the ideological overtones of previous decades.

The School Journal is now in its 107th year and still going strong. It continues to be proudly written, edited, and illustrated in New Zealand, ensuring Kiwi content for Kiwi kids. The School Journal is part of the Ministry’s curriculum resources.

To keep up with the times and changing tastes of children, the Ministry of Education is now exploring ways of taking advantage of the digital environment to make content more accessible and interactive. Eight issues of the School Journal are published each year. On top of this, each year two titles in the School Journal Story Library series are also published.

The New Zealand School Journal is an enduring showcase of Kiwi creativity that draws on the talents of award-winning New Zealand writers, illustrators, and photographers to bring the curriculum alive. Being the second oldest publication in New Zealand, it must be doing something right to remain in print for over 100 years.

Ceidrik Heward

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