The South Canterbury Times first appeared in Timaru in March 1873. It was owned and published by Edward Ball (c.1833-1921). Previously the newspaper had been known as the Timaru and Gladstone Gazette, which Ball started in 1870, in partnership with Henry John Turner (c.1831-1907). In May 1872 the Timaru and Gladstone Gazette offices were destroyed by fire, along with six adjacent buildings, although the staff managed to save the newspaper, type and two presses. Soon after the fire, Ball bought Turner out and changed the name of the paper to the South Canterbury Times.
Ball features in a number of libel cases, including one where he described the men of the Hayes and Benhamo circus as ‘…the lowest specimens of travelling artists we have had to encounter as far as business matters are concerned. Rudeness and vulgarity seem to be their special forte…’ This seems to have occurred because of a dispute over an advertising bill. In this case Ball was fined £50.
In 1879 Ball sold the newspaper to Robert Stansell. Two years later, in 1881, the South Canterbury Times was leased with the right to purchase by Edward George Kerr (1845-1906). Kerr had arrived in New Zealand in 1861 and first lived in Kaiapoi. He moved to Timaru in 1877 as the correspondent for the Lyttelton Times.
Six years after acquiring the South Canterbury Times, Kerr purchased his main rival, the Timaru Herald. He ran both newspapers from Sophia Street, publishing the Herald in the morning and the South Canterbury Times in the evening, until 1901 when the Times closed. This was part of an agreement Kerr made with the other local newspaper, the Timaru Post, when he persuaded the Post to switch from morning to evening publication. The Post closed down in 1939, while the Kerr family continued to publish the Timaru Herald until it was sold to Independent Newspapers Ltd (INL) in 1985.
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