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Historic South Island and Māori newspapers on Papers Past website

5 January 2016

The fiercely competitive world of newspaper publishing during the nineteenth century Otago gold rush has come to life with the latest digitisation project for the National Library’s Papers Past website.


Five hundred copies of the first edition of the Cromwell Argus were snapped up on Monday 8 November 1869, after the publisher rode all day on horseback from Lawrence to deliver them to locals. More than 2000 issues of the Cromwell Argus were subsequently published between 1869 and 1920, and the rival Cromwell Guardian was put out of business.


The Cromwell Argus is one of fourteen new additions, or title extensions, to the Papers Past website. The latest batch includes a number of significant South Island and Māori language titles (see below). The Māori titles were previously accessible online through the University of Waikato Department of Computer Science, but are now also searchable on the Papers Past website.


Papers Past is an online collection of digitised New Zealand newspapers and periodicals. Currently it contains issues from 130 New Zealand newspapers, dating from 1839 to 1948. It includes 616,879 newspaper issues; 4,065,256 pages; 50,474,317 articles and has over 100,000 page views every day.


National Librarian Bill Macnaught has thanked the organisations which contributed to this valuable online resource. The National Library worked closely with a charitable trust, copyright owners, community groups and other agencies to support the digitisation project. The latest batch to go online involved partnerships including the Central Lakes Trust, Hocken Collections University of Otago, Friends of the Hocken Collections, Christchurch City Libraries and the Department of Computer Science, University of Waikato.


Bill Macnaught says the original newspapers are increasingly fragile and difficult to access for researchers and students. “These invaluable records are securely preserved and now made available to anyone, anywhere through a free and easy-to-access website. Many of these newspapers have long since ceased publishing, while others, like The Press in Canterbury, remain an integral part of their communities.”


The latest newspapers to be digitised are: Aotearoa: he Nūpepa mā ngā Tangata Māori (1892); Aotearoa, or the Māori Recorder (1861-1862); Cromwell Argus (1869-1920); Dunstan Times (1866-1948); Kōpara (1913-1921); Lake County Mail (1947-1948); Lake County Press (1872-1928); Lake Wakatip Mail (1921-1947); Māori Record: a journal devoted to the advancement of the Māori people (1904-1907); Mt Benger Mail (1921-1941); Pīpīwharauroa (1898-1913); Press (1936-1945); Star (1918-1920); Toa Takitini (1921-1932).


Media contact:
Gabrielle George
gabrielle.george@dia.govt.nz
04 495 9323


Note to Editors:

The National Library wishes to acknowledge the partnership and support of the following organisations:

Central Lakes Trust for:

  • Dunstan Times (1866-1948)
  • Lake County Mail (1947-1948)
  • Lake County Press (1872-1928)
  • Lake Wakatip Mail (1921-1947)
  • Mt Benger Mail (1921-1941)
Central Lakes Trust, Hocken Collections University of Otago, and the Friends of the Hocken Collections for:
  • Cromwell Argus (1869-1920)
Christchurch City Libraries for:
  • Press (1936-1945)
  • Star (1918-1920)
Dr Mark Apperley and Dr Te Taka Keegan from the Department of Computer Science, University of Waikato, for:
  • Aotearoa: he Nūpepa mā ngā Tangata Māori (1892)
  • Aotearoa, or the Māori Recorder (1861-1862)
  • Kōpara (1913-1921)
  • Māori Record: a journal devoted to the advancement of the Māori people (1904-1907)
  • Pīpīwharauroa (1898-1913)
  • Toa Takitini (1921-1932)


Thanks also to Gail Dallimore, for allowing us to use her research as a basis for the essays on Māori newspapers.