In 1864, Havelock, a small settlement at the head of Pelorus Sound in Marlborough, about 40 kms north-west of Blenheim, was close to the scene of a short, frantic gold rush. The township mushroomed in size as miners arrived from the Otago diggings to try their luck on the Wakamarina field.
The Nelson Examiner’s special Canvas Town correspondent wrote: ‘I paid a short visit to Havelock a few days since, and was very much struck by the almost incredible change which had taken place since I was there weeks ago; instead of a few buildings and a limited number even of tents, scattered here and there among the fern and tutu, I found a thriving town with a good open street of considerable length: many of the buildings are of wood or corrugated iron, while the number of canvas and calico tenements, ranged for the most part in lines, is quite astonishing.’ The correspondent also noted: ‘Havelock boasts a newspaper, called the Havelock Mail. I have seen the printing office, while the hands were at work. The plant and all the arrangements are, I think, very creditable. A newspaper will be a great convenience to the inhabitants, and will probably succeed as a speculation.’
In fact, the very short-lived bi-weekly Havelock Mail is best remembered as the first newspaper venture of Henry Blundell, his sons, and David Curie who the next year launched Wellington’s Evening Post. By early 1865, most of the miners and the proprietors of the Havelock Mail had moved on.
Despite its name, the mining era was a fading memory when Havelock’s second paper, the bi-weekly Pelorus Guardian and Miner’s Advocate was launched on 24 January 1890 by G K Wakelin, youngest son of Greytown’s Richard Wakelin.
The paper survived, against the odds, until 1920 when its last editorial on 26 March said: ‘It has been a long and weary struggle during the horrible world war. Although the aftermath proved too powerful for our weakened frame, we have done our best in the interests of the district and the colony.’