‘Not the least interesting paper on the West Coast was the Kumara Times and Pounamu and Goldsborough Advertiser, which was founded in 1876 by the proprietors of the Grey River Argus’. (Guy H Scholefield, Newspapers in New Zealand, 1958).
Gold had been discovered on the West Coast in the 1860s, with Hokitika as the goldfields capital and smaller towns being established up and down the coast. Stafford and Goldsborough, on the Waimea goldfield a few miles north of Hokitika, had hotels, stores, a school, library and churches, and a tramway from town.
Kumara, named by A D Dobson in 1863 after the flower of the bush lawyer, kohimara, was a later goldfield, supposedly 'rushed' after an illicit whisky still was being set up on the banks of the Teramakau River and gold was discovered...all thoughts of moonshine disappeared very quickly.
Richard John Seddon, (1845–1906) had settled on the Waimea, having joined his uncle Nathan Seddon there in late 1866. Born in Lancashire, Seddon spent a few years in Australia before moving over to the West Coast, establishing himself as a storekeeper, publican, miner's advocate, and starting a family. When he heard of the Kumara rush he moved hotel licence, wife and children over the hill and he became the first Mayor of the borough of Kumara. In 1879 he became a member of Parliament, and he represented the West Coast for the remainder of his life, of which 13 years were as Premier. He left Kumara in 1895, spending the last 10 years of his life in Wellington.
An obituary in the Evening Post on 26th August 1901 reported the death of the Hon James Kerr, ‘...a pioneer of the West Coast, founder of the Kumara Times, part proprietor of the Grey River Argus, and a prominent figure in local politics...chair of the Westland Education Board and the Greymouth Harbour Board, and a member of the Borough Council’. Kerr was born in Scotland in 1834, went to Australia in 1858, and joined Julius Vogel on the Otago Daily Times in 1861. He established the Grey River Argus in 1865, favoured liberalism in its truest form, and was an ardent and keen supporter of Richard Seddon and the Liberal Party.
Charles Janion (1830–1902) owned the Kumara Times from 1883–1896, and sold it to Messrs Benyon and Richards, who ran the newspaper until 31 July 1917, when it closed. Janion, incidentally, developed Seddon's idea of a New Zealand Year Book, and edited the 1893 edition.
There are 11,732 pages of the Kumara Times in 20 cloth-covered cardboard folios, each with its own shelf in the Hokitika Museum's periodical room. They represent 50% of the first 20 years of the paper's publication, of some years there are only 6 months of copy, and other years are entirely missing. There are no traces of the last 20 years of copies, many were lost in a Kumara fire.
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This newspaper was digitised in partnership with New Zealand Society of Genealogists Dorothy Castles Bequest and Heritage Hokitika Incorporated Society.