The Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle was the first newspaper published in the South Island. It was established by Charles Elliott (1811-1876) in 1842, within a few weeks of the New Zealand Company settlers arriving in Nelson.
The Examiner, like its contemporary in Wellington, the New Zealand Gazette, was founded with a loan from the New Zealand Company. And even though the loan was paid back within a few years and despite disavowals from Elliott, the paper was always regarded by many colonists as an organ of the Company. Certainly the Examiner expressed very similar views to the Company, particularly concerning representative government for the settlers and it was an unrelenting critic of the colonial administration in Auckland.
According to Thomas Hocken, the Examiner was “esteemed the best of all early New Zealand newspapers, and had eminent colonists as its editors and contributors”. These contributors included prominent politicians such as Alfred Domett, Francis Dillon Bell, Edward Stafford and William Fox.
Elliott himself was politically active, holding various offices in the provincial government of Nelson in the 1850’s and 1860’s.
Ultimately the Examiner was unable to compete with the two other Nelson papers, the Colonist and the Nelson Evening Mail. The Examiner was too closely aligned with the interests of the large run-holders in the Wairau, who included Charles Elliott and his brother James. The Colonist was established in 1857 to oppose these landed proprietors. The paper lost much of its support when the Wairau was incorporated into the neighbouring province of Marlborough in 1859.
The Examiner tried to compete by moving to daily publication in 1873 and setting up subsidiary publications. These included the Illustrated Examiner (1869), the Weekly Examiner (1873), Wakamarina Intelligencer (1874). None of these publications could be sustained and the paper folded in 1874.