Keen to have his own newspaper, Alexander McMinn, editor of the Rangitkei Advocate, established the Manawatu Standard in 1880 as a four page morning daily, the first daily in Palmerston North. The first issue, dated 29 November 1880, contained an editorial written by John Ballance.
As circulation increased (estimated at 1,500 in 1881), technology improved, with replacement of the hand-press by a steam-driven printing press, and town and country editions were introduced. Relations with the rival Manawatu Times were disputatious.
Brothers Frederick and David Pirani took it over in 1891 and later changed it to an evening publication. Martha Pirani, wife of Frederick, wrote editorials for the paper. Liberal Independent in politics, it circulated in the Manawatu District, Hawke’s Bay and Taranaki and was recognised for its stock sale advertisements. Frederick won the seat of Palmerston in the election of 1893 and remained in office until his retirement due to poor health in 1902.
The Manawatu Standard was sold to John Coombe and Norman Henry Nash in 1903. The Standard celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 1930, with a special issue. Despite further changes in ownership, it continued to be published into the 21st century.