The Hutt News is one of New Zealand’s earliest and longest running community newspapers. It was established by Walter Harold Smith in 1927. Smith, a retired farmer, thought the time was right for Lower Hutt to have its own paper. The neighbouring borough of Petone had managed to sustain a newspaper, the Hutt and Petone Chronicle, since 1887. By the 1920s Lower Hutt’s population was approaching that of Petone’s.
The Hutt News was first issued in April 1927 under the auspices of the local Businessmen’s Association with 2500 copies posted to households and businesses in Lower Hutt. In 1928 Smith was joined by James and William Kerr from the Petone Chronicle. Together they formed the Hutt Printing and Publishing Company to produce a new version of the Hutt News. Smith remained as manager with William Kerr assisting him while his brother stayed with the Chronicle.
The Kerr family had long been involved with newspapers. The father, James Kerr (1834-1901), had worked on papers in Scotland, Australia and Otago before establishing the Grey River Argus in Greymouth in 1865. James, his son, managed the Argus before buying the Petone Chronicle in 1912. William had worked on the Argus and the New Zealand Times.
The paper thrived as the population of the area grew rapidly in the 1940s and 1950s although production was threatened during the War due to staff shortages. The Hutt News had to rely on printers from the Trentham Military Camp to keep the paper going. In 1948 William Kerr became the Managing Director after the death of Walter Smith.
In 1953 the Hutt Printing and Publishing Company took over the Petone Chronicle and continued to publish that paper until 1967. In 1961 William Kerr died and his son Ted succeeded him as Managing Director. In 1963 the paper was sold to Blundell Brothers, publishers of the Evening Post. The Hutt News became part of Independent Newspapers Limited (INL) in 1972 after they bought the Blundell’s company. Ownership changed again in 2003 when Fairfax bought INL.