The West Coast Times owes its existence to the gold rush on the West Coast in 1865. Before the gold rush there were few European settlers on the West Coast, certainly not enough to sustain a newspaper.
The West Coast Times was the first of many papers to start up in the Hokitika area after the rush began. The Times started in May 1865, only two months after the Provincial Government in Canterbury had proclaimed the goldfield on the West Coast. The paper was founded by John Tyrrell but soon sold to William Shaw, a local politician. Shaw was Mayor of Hokitika in 1867.
That the Times prospered on the back of the gold boom can be seen by its publishing activities. In 1865 a weekly edition for rural readers called the Leader was issued, in January 1866 the Times became a daily, and later that year they published a daily evening paper, the Despatch.
The boom in Hokitika and opposition to Shaw’s political activities encouraged others to set up newspapers in the town. The Times’ most serious rival was the Evening Star, founded by Joseph Klein and James Snyder Browne in 1867 mostly to oppose Shaw. The competition between these papers peaked in 1868 when Klein and Browne provided the financial backing and management for a new morning paper, the Westland Observer. Shaw responded by reviving the Despatch, his evening paper that had gone into abeyance the year before.
However the situation was soon resolved when Shaw decided to leave Hokitika. Klein and Browne bought the Times from him and immediately stopped publishing the Despatch and the Observer. From then to its demise in 1917 the Times’ history was much less eventful. Ownership changed several more times. In 1874 Robert Caldwell Reid took over. Reid was a prominent politician active in both provincial and national government. In the 1880s the paper was sold to Leonard Northcroft and Harry Snow and in 1917 it was sold to Dawes, Nightingale and Co. Later that year it was absorbed into the Hokitika Guardian and Star.