In 1912, Edward C Huie resigned from editorship of the Press Company’s Evening News in Christchurch, frustrated that the proprietors were not interested in the young Australian’s ideas about livelier journalism and layout. The Evening News’ primary role was to carry news and advertisements too late for that day’s Press.
The 36-year-old Huie announced shortly afterwards his intention to launch a third evening paper, a competitor to the Evening News and the Lyttelton Times’ Star. In October 1912 the NZPA reported that the Canterbury Publishing Company had been registered with a capital of £75,000 (about $11.75 million today). The report noted that Huie would be editor and the paper’s backers were ‘prominent supporters of the Reform [precursor to National] party’.
The Sun, modelled on London’s Daily Mail, without the British popular press’s sensationalism, was launched in February 1914. It was an immediate success with Christchurch readers and advertisers. Its reporting was energetic and there was much more illustration than common in New Zealand dailies of the time. It also gave considerable encouragement to poets, short story writers and essayists. The Evening News closed in 1917 and the Sun was soon outstripping the Star in circulation.
Buoyed by this success, Huie convinced his directors to enter the lucrative Auckland newspaper market. A new company, Sun Newspapers Ltd, acquired the property of the Canterbury Publishing Company, and in March 1927 Auckland’s Sun was launched. Its journalistic approach appealed as much to Aucklanders as it had to Christchurch newspaper readers but the establishment costs in a much larger market and the deepening Depression were complicating factors. In 1929, the Brett Company, publishers of the Auckland Star, took over the Lyttelton Times Company. The merged company, New Zealand Newspapers Ltd, now owned Huie’s Auckland and Christchurch evening competitors. The ensuing pressure was too much and the Auckland Sun’s short, colourful life ended late in 1930 when New Zealand Newspapers bought the paper for about £62,000 ($6 million today.)
The pressure intensified on Huie and the Sun in Christchurch, with the three newspaper companies discussing and rejecting a range of mergers and takeovers predicated on tacit agreement that four dailies were not sustainable, and one morning and one evening paper was desirable. In November 1934, both the Sun and Star halved their per copy price to one penny, with the Press following suit and picking up circulation that further weakened its evening competitors. With its losses mounting, the Sun directors – despite Huie’s desire to fight on – agreed to sell to New Zealand Newspapers in late May 1935. In early July the first issue of the Christchurch Star-Sun appeared. The evening daily retained this name until 1958 and was the Christchurch Star when it closed in 1991.
From 1936 to 1939, Edward Huie was London representative of The Press. In 1940, he purchased, on behalf of a private company, the Hawke’s Bay Daily Mail, then in receivership. He managed and edited the newspaper until daily publication ended in June 1941. He died in Sydney in 1967.
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