Irishman quick to join press gang
This year is the 160th anniversary of the founding of the Hawke’s Bay Herald, one of Hawke’s Bay Today’s predecessors.
The Hawke’s Bay Herald began publication in September 1857, and with a population of about 900 Europeans in the district, proprietor James Wood (1822-1875) only produced the Saturday-morning weekly as a four-page paper.
As the newspaper grew in circulation it was joined by several men, including Thomas (Tom) Morrison (1846-1909).
At age 11, in Cork City, Ireland, Tom Morrison was apprenticed to James Kemp as a printer, where he would serve for two years.
After his father’s death, Tom travelled to New Zealand with his mother, Mary, and sisters Ellen and Catherine in the Minerva, arriving at Lyttelton on March 2, 1861.
The family continued their journey to Napier, arriving on April 1, 1861.
Tom was employed immediately by James Wood at the Hawke’s Bay Herald, and completed his indentureship over the next five years.
In 1871, Tom, who was now the head of the printing department, purchased the business from James Wood in partnership with the accountant Peter Dinwiddie and editor William Carlile.
James Wood had wanted to go farming, so he sold his business to do this.
At just 24 years of age, Tom had become part-owner of a newspaper.
But in April 1879, Tom left the Hawke’s Bay Herald and sold his share in the newspaper to Richard Walker.
He then turned his attention solely to journalism, and became parliamentary correspondent for the Hawke’s Bay Herald and other papers.
By 1883 he was appointed chief parliamentary reporter for the Press Association and acted in that capacity for 14 years, also taking the role of press gallery chairman during many sessions.
Tom was also a fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Journalists and was its vice-president in 1897.
He was very active in church affairs at St John’s in Napier, especially in the choir. He was also one of the first members of the Napier Bowling Club.
The Hawke’s Bay Herald continued to be a Napier newspaper until the 1931 earthquake destroyed its building and plant.
The Hastings-based Hawke’s Bay Tribune offered to print the Herald, which continued publication.
A new company was formed in 1932 to own both papers. That left Napier with the Daily Telegraph, which was founded in 1871.
In 1937 the Hawke’s Bay Herald and Hawke’s Bay Tribune became one newspaper, the Hawke’s’ Bay Herald-Tribune.
Hawke’s Bay Today was formed in 1999 when the Daily Telegraph merged with the Hawke’s Bay Herald- Tribune.
Michael’s books A Collage of History: Hastings, Havelock North and Napier and From Disaster to Recovery: The Hastings CBD 1931-35 are available at Whitcoulls, Hastings and Napier; Napier I-Site; Art Deco Trust Napier; Beattie and Forbes, Napier; Plaza Books, Hastings; Wardini Havelock North and Napier; Hastings, Taradale and Napier Paper Plus and Poppies Havelock North.
Michael Fowler (mfhistory[@]gmail.com) is the heritage officer at the Art Deco Trust.
Photo captions –
FAMILY TIES: Thomas Morrison with one of his sisters’ sons outside Napier’s pre-earthquake Masonic Hotel about the early 1900s.
PHOTO/ GLENIS TYSON
MEDIA PRESENCE: The newspaper office in Tennyson St in the late 1800S.
PHOTO/COLLECTION OF HAWKE’S BAY MUSEUMS TRUST, RUAWHAROTA-U-RANGI
Historic Hawke’s Bay