The Timaru Herald is the daily newspaper in Timaru. It has been published continuously since 1864. In the 1870s it was one of New Zealand’s most important newspapers.
The Herald was founded by Alfred George Horton and Ingram Shrimpton. The first issue was printed on 11 June 1864. Originally publication was weekly.
The Herald was set up to promote the interests of Timaru and Gladstone districts against those of the Canterbury province to which they belonged. People in the Timaru area thought they were not getting a fair share of the revenues collected by the provincial government. Horton’s involvement in this issue is very clear; he helped promote a bill in parliament setting up the Timaru and Gladstone Board of Works. This gave Timaru more control of expenditure on public works in the area and seems to have satisfied the local desire for independence from Canterbury.
In 1866 the Herald became a bi-weekly, and in 1871 Horton sold to Herbert Belfield. Horton went on to become one of the most important newspaper publishers in New Zealand when, in 1876 he joined the Wilson family to create Wilson and Horton, the publishers of the New Zealand Herald for so many years.
In the 1870s the Timaru Herald developed into a significant newspaper with a national reputation. This was largely due to the editor Edward Wakefield. Wakefield, the nephew of Edward Gibbon Wakefield, was an able and hard-hitting writer who was active in both local and national affairs. He was a Member of the House of Representatives in the 1870s and 1880s. As editor of the Herald he led campaigns that gained Timaru a port and waterworks. In parliament he had a reputation as a fierce debater but also for fickleness, which probably prevented him from achieving high office. In 1876 he was summoned to appear before the House of Representatives on a charge of breach of privilege after he wrote an article in the Herald that impugned the integrity of the current Members. The charges were dropped after Wakefield apologised to the House. During Wakefield’s term the paper began daily publication. He left the Herald in 1885 when he moved to Wellington.
During the 1880s the Herald ran into financial difficulties. The Timaru Herald Company was formed to take over ownership with Herbert Belfield retained as the manager of the newspaper. In 1886 the paper was leased by its mortgagees to Joseph Ivess, an indefatigable founder and owner of newspapers in New Zealand in the 19th century. Ivess is reckoned to have started twenty-six newspapers; characteristically he did not stay with the Herald for long.
In 1887 the paper was sold to Edward George Kerr. Kerr already owned another Timaru newspaper, the South Canterbury Times. Kerr ran the Times and the Herald from the same building, with the Herald published in the morning and the Times in the evening. The Times was closed in 1901 as part of a deal Kerr made with the other morning paper, the Timaru Post. Kerr persuaded the Post to switch to evening publication, becoming in effect the evening edition of the Herald. In 1923 the Herald began to subsidise the Post to keep it going. The Post ceased in 1939.
The Kerr family owned and managed the Herald until the 1980s when it was sold to Independent Newspapers Limited (INL).