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The paper had a complicated genesis. In Shannon in 1893, William C Nation, well-known in spiritualist circles, began the tri-weekly Manawatu Farmer and Horowhenua County Chronicle, with his son Charles. Nation had previously worked for the Nelson Colonist and the New Zealand Times and had owned the Wairarapa Standard. In 1896 the well-known newspaper ‘planter’ Joseph Ivess arrived in nearby Levin and began the Manawatu Express and Horowhenua County Advertiser, selling it almost immediately to William J Reid and John McKellop. The Nations responded by moving their plant to Levin, buying in turn the Manawatu Express from Reid and McKellop and absorbing it into the Manawatu Farmer, which continued as a tri-weekly as the town grew.

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