Newspaper publishing began in the Foxton area in the 1870s when the Manawatu was opened up for European settlement. In this period Foxton’s port was developed and the town was linked by coach and rail to the main centres in the lower North Island.
The Manawatu Herald was founded by brothers George Warren Russell and John Ruffell Russell in 1878. It was the first paper published in Foxton, following unsuccessful attempts in 1873 to publish a newspaper called the Manawatu Guardian. George Russell had worked on newspapers in Invercargill and Wellington and went on to work on others, in particular the Spectator in Christchurch. He was also a prominent Member of the House of Representatives and cabinet minister during the First World War.
George Russell did not stay with the Herald for long. By 1882 he had moved on to the Manawatu Times in Palmerston North leaving his brother with the Foxton paper. The Herald was sold to Ernest Thynne in 1889. During Thynne’s tenure the Herald had a rival paper to contend with, the Foxton Telegraph, which ran for four years from 1896. The local council appear to have encouraged the Telegraph by dividing council advertising between it and the Herald. This was probably because Thynne and the Herald represented the rural lobby in Foxton.
In 1906 Thynne sold the paper to John Knowles Hornblow. Hornblow came from a family of newspapermen; his father wrote for the New Zealand Times, and Hornblow and his brothers worked on various Wairarapa newspapers. Hornblow owned the Wairarapa Standard in Greytown before taking over the Herald.
When Hornblow took over the Herald, Foxton was a town with prospects. There were plans to extend the port and it was hoped that the main trunk line would go through Foxton. Unfortunately within a year or two these prospects were gone. The port development did not go ahead and the railway that was completed in 1908 bypassed Foxton. Despite this Hornblow and his son Robert managed to keep the Herald running, with Robert taking over as proprietor after his father died in 1937. The paper changed hands several more times before ceasing publication in 1997.
The Herald was initially published twice a week then moved to thrice weekly in 1890, back to bi-weekly in 1944 and then weekly from 1956. In 1955 the title was changed to the Foxton Herald and in 1961 it reverted to the Manawatu Herald.