Nothing is useful that is not honest

Nihil utile quod non honestum

So says the motto of the Christchurch Press Newspaper. The first copy of ‘The Press’ was published on this day in 1861 and it seems to me that such a motto is one that many a media outlet should note!

All six pages of the first edition are available here on the excellent ‘Papers Past’ website – a wonderful source of knowledge for aspiring authors of historical fiction in New Zealand.

This edition of The Press gets a mention in the 2nd book of The Applecross Saga, Shepherd’s Delight. As you can imagine, with no alternative means of knowing what was happening in the world, James and his friends would glean every bit of news and information from such a publication.

The photo shows the first Press Office in Christchurch at a time when the city barely existed. It is reproduced from The Press Archive/Stuff.

From ‘Shepherd’s Delight’ :-

“Edmund, always one to be interested in horses, pricked up his ears. “I have heard that people are getting together to race their horses,” he said to Guy. “I would love to see it, and I think my young boys would love to take part when they are older.”

“Well, would it be possible for you all to join me there?” replied Guy. “It will not take place until the spring – perhaps October, or November. The date will be announced in the new broadsheet newspaper from Christchurch, The Press, which comes out every Saturday. Though I have heard tell that a new broadsheet from Dunedin may come out later this year and be printed every day.”

Edgar made a mental note to tell his wife to order The Press. It sounded like something they would all like to read. “A newspaper that came out every day – whatever next?” he said, almost to himself.

“Ah, but I have the first copy of The Press here. Frewin brought it for me,” said Guy, fumbling through the pile of papers and photographs in his saddlebag. He pulled out a well-thumbed copy of the broadsheet from the previous Saturday, 25th May. “And the latest Otago Witness, if you would like to read it. You will make my load lighter if you keep them both.”

Like all those who live far away from their homeland, the men had a voracious need to find out what else was going on in the world. They were happy to accept these gifts from Guy and assured him they would be put to good use, with every word being read over and again. “But not tonight,” said James. “I am off to my bed now.” The other men rose to go to their respective beds, but Samuel, it seemed, had no desire to move.

“I’ll stay a while and read until this candle burns down,” he said. The others left him to it, James thinking to himself that those words made up the longest sentence Samuel had uttered since Carrie’s death. Time was healing, perhaps.”

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