The discovery of gold in Gabriel’s Gully in 1861 led to a huge increase in the population of Dunedin, going from fewer than 2,000 inhabitants to nearly 15,000 by the end of the 1860s. Julius Vogel (1835-1899) arrived in Dunedin in October 1861 and became editor of the weekly Otago Witness. Together with the Otago Witness publisher William Cutten, Vogel started up the Otago Daily Times. The first issue appeared on 15 November 1861, making it the first daily newspaper in New Zealand, and the one with the longest history of daily publication.
Vogel’s support for separating the South and North Islands led to his dismissal in 1868, leaving him to concentrate on national politics, whilst always retaining an interest in journalism.
After a merger of the Otago Guardian and the Otago Daily Times, a public company, The Otago Daily Times and Witness Company, was floated in 1878. One of the highlights of the paper’s history is the exposure of working conditions in Dunedin sweatshops in the 1880s by chief reporter Silas Spragg and editor George Fenwick.
Nearly a century later the Otago Daily Times Ltd and the Evening Star Company Ltd merged in 1975, followed within a few years by the transformation of the Evening Star into a community newspaper. This left the Otago Daily Times as the city’s only daily newspaper.
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