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Six million pages and counting

April 14th, 2020 By Tracy Powell

Four completely new newspaper titles added

As of today, Papers Past now holds more than 6 million pages of newspapers! We’ve reached this important milestone thanks to the addition of four completely new titles and some additional, early issues of the Wanganui Chronicle (its coverage now extends all the way back to 1860). The other four titles are the Gisborne Times (1901-1937), Hokitika Guardian (1917-1940), Opotiki News (1938-1950) and the Saturday Advertiser (July 1875-1878).

Side by side images of two black & white front pages of newspapers, the Saturday Advertiser and The Opotiki News.
The front page of the 'Saturday Advertiser' from 7 August 1875 alongside the front page of the 9 March 1938 edition of the 'Opotiki News' (Opotiki News (1996) Ltd CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

Collaborative newspaper digitisation programme

Both the Opotiki News and the Saturday Advertiser were successful applicants in the 2018-2019 Collaborative Newspaper Digitisation Programme. They were microfilmed in 2018-2019 for digitisation in 2019-2020. The former was supported by Sonia Edwards and the latter by Dunedin Public Libraries, part of Dunedin City Council.

John Joseph Woods' handwritten score for the national anthem 'God Defend New Zealand'.
John Joseph Woods' handwritten score for 'God Defend New Zealand'. Ref: GNZMS 296 Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections

God defend New Zealand

The Saturday Advertiser contains the first known publication of New Zealand’s national anthem “God defend New Zealand”. Thomas Bracken, the author of the anthem, was also the owner and editor of the 'Saturday Advertiser', and he decided to run a competition to get his national hymn set to music. The prize on offer was 10 guineas and the judges were three Melbourne musicians, Alberto Zelman, Julius Siede and Thomas Zeplin. It was won by teacher John Joseph Woods, of Lawrence, Otago. You can find out more about the story of the national anthem at Te Ara: Encyclopedia of New Zealand, including a video of it being sung in Māori, English and sign-language.

A clip from the newspaper showing the advertisement for a prize for "the best national air... National songs, ballads and hymns, have a tendency to elevate the character of a people, and keep alive the fire of patriotism in their breasts. The Proprietors of the Saturday Advertiser being aware of this fact, beg to offer a prize of ten guineas for the best air of the following national hymn."
This is the advertisement for Bracken’s competition. The first known publication of “God Defend New Zealand” follows the competition details. (Saturday Advertiser, 1 July 1876, p.9).
Black and white photo of Thomas Bracken beside and image of the handwritten lyrics to God Defend New Zealand.
L: Thomas Bracken (1843-1898) photograph taken by the London Portrait Rooms (ca 1877). Ref: PAColl-7581-79 Alexander Turnbull Library R: Lyrics to God Defend New Zealand, written in Thomas Bracken's hand. Noted at the end: Dunedin, July 9th 1876. Ref: GNZMS 6 Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections

Gisborne and West Coast see broader coverage

The other titles were part of the National Library’s regular selection programme. We’ve been expanding our coverage of the Gisborne region in the last few years and thanks to the generous support of copyright holders the Gisborne Herald Company, the 'Gisborne Times' now joins the 'Poverty Bay Herald' and the 'Gisborne Herald' online.

We don’t have anything beyond 1920 for the West Coast at the moment, so it's great to push up to 1940 with the 'Hokitika Guardian'. We also have permission from the Greymouth Evening Star company to extend its coverage, along with the 'Kaikoura Star', up to 1950 – so those communities will have this to look forward to over the next few years.

Please head over to Papers Past and explore a few of the more than 6 million newspaper pages.

Co-written by Tracy Powell, with assistance from Melanie Lovell-Smith, Digitisation Advisors at the National Library of New Zealand.

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15 April 2020 11:39am

Wow, exciting!! Great work National Library of New Zealand!!