From the early 1880s, there was constant newspaper competition in Cambridge, about 22 kms south-east of Hamilton. After ‘ragplanter’ Joseph Ivess launched the tri-weekly Waikato Mail in September 1880 he, typically, moved on a few months later, but the paper survived until early 1882. Cambridge’s next paper, the bi-weekly Waikato Gazette and Thames Valley Recorder, appeared in late June 1883. In 1885, it was replaced by the tri-weekly Cambridge News which published until 1892-1893. About two years later, in July 1895, J S Bond, printer and mayor of Cambridge, launched the weekly Waikato Advocate. Barely a year later, it was absorbed into the Waikato Times when Bond purchased the Hamilton paper.
Another eight years passed before Cambridge had its next newspaper, the tri-weekly Waikato Independent. When it was launched on 15 November 1904 by David Pirani, previously co-owner, with his brother Frederick, of the Manawatu Standard, the Free Lance reported: ‘ ....the Piranis are all Left-wingers – worked for some years in the composing-room of the Government Printing Office .... When he dropped out of the Palmerston Standard it was the intention of Mr. Pirani to retire – a rare experience for a printer – but apparently he feels too young for a ‘has been’, hence his coming activities in the Waikato.’
The eight-page paper appeared on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Pirani sold to Reginald Pyke, formerly owner of Milton’s Bruce Herald, in May 1906. He, in turn, sold four years later and returned to the Bruce Herald. Between 1911 and 1920 the Waikato Publishing Company owned the paper and for the next decade Frank Penn, Otaki Mail owner, was the proprietor. In late 1930 Charles Vennell became the Waikato Independent editor when a company he was the minority shareholder in bought the newspaper. Later the paper, still a tri-weekly, was controlled by the Boulton family.
A fire in January 1945 gutted the Waikato Independent’s building, destroying machinery, newsprint supplies and files, but the paper continued. There was a change of name to the Cambridge Independent in 1966 and the paper finally closed in April 1995.
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