Riverton’s first newspaper, the Riverton Times, was established by Robert Osborne Carrick and partners in 1864. Guy Scholefield (Newspapers in New Zealand, 1958) describes it as ‘a creditable enough publication’ but it did not last long and before the end of 1864 the press on which it was printed had been relocated north to Waikouaiti.
For the next nine years Riverton had to rely on Invercargill newspapers, until the arrival of the Western Star on 15 November 1873. The Star began as a weekly, before moving to two issues per week in 1880 and by January 1900 it was being published three times a week. It reverted to two issues per week in 1902.
William Galloway and his son Alexander purchased the Western Star shortly after its establishment and the Galloway family were closely associated with the newspaper for many years. Alexander, who had previous experience with a number of newspapers including the Grey River Argus, was involved with the Western Star until his death in 1891, and his wife Josephine then took over ownership of the newspaper until 1902. John Charles Thomson, who married Josephine in 1893, was another important figure in the running of the Star. Thomson was a mayor of Riverton and also the MP for Wallace for a lengthy time.
In 1899 competition to the Western Star arrived in the form of Joseph Ivess, irrepressible ‘rag-planter’ who began numerous newspapers in small towns around the country. Ivess set up a small chain of newspapers based in Riverton (Riverton Times, Orepuki Miner, Otautau Mail) but the well-established Star soon saw off these inferior rivals. There was also rivalry with the neighbouring Otautau Standard, with the owner of the Standard complaining frequently about the amount of advertising business placed by the Wallace County Council with the Western Star compared to the Standard. The Western Star established the Otautau Farmer, which ran in competition to the Standard for many years.
In 1939 Sidney Arthur Odell took over the Western Star. By 1942, when the Star was forced to close due to wartime newsprint shortages, it was a four page weekly publication. In its final issue on 24 April 1942 the Star expressed the hope that ‘if not before, with the return of our men may we re-welcome the Western Star’ but this was not to be.
In 1996 the Western Star name was revived, when a monthly community newspaper was established.
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