Allied Press History

Allied Press Ltd was born in 1975 of the merger between two of the oldest newspaper companies in New Zealand, the Otago Daily Times Ltd and the Evening Star Company Ltd.

The Otago Daily Times and the Evening Star both began operations in the heady days of the great Otago gold rushes. The Otago Daily Times was first off the press on November 15,1861 and is the newspaper with the longest history of daily publication in New Zealand. Its founder was Julius (later Sir Julius) Vogel, an Englishman of Jewish parentage, who began his journalistic career In Australia. He went into partnership with William Cutten, publisher of the Otago Witness, founded in 1851, to form the Otago Daily Times and Witness Newspaper Company Ltd.

The Evening Star, which began publication on May 1, 1863 under the ownership of George and William Henningham, suffered initially from lack of capital, and, in 1869 the creditors took over. The plant was bought by Mr George Bell, proprietor of the recently founded Evening Independent, who incorporated the two titles into one publication on June 14,1869.

Bell, who arrived in Dunedin in 1863, worked with Vogel, as a sub-editor on the Otago Daily Times and editor of the Otago Witness for five years prior to founding the Evening Independent and subsequently buying the Evening Star.

The Star was highly regarded by readers and was a strong competitor for the Otago Daily Times, especially in Dunedin city.

However, competition for advertising from commercial radio and television affected the viability of most evening papers in two-newspaper towns in the 1970s and, as a result the directors of Allied Press Ltd decided to convert the Star to a twice weekly community paper, after the daily ceased publication on November 3, 1979.

In the 1980s Allied Press became a takeover target. As a defensive move, to protect local ownership, the Dunedin based produce and markets group, John M. Fraser and Co Ltd joined forces with Allied Press Ltd shareholders in a new company, Otago Press and Produce Limited (OPP), which combined the newspaper and produce interests, under the chairmanship of Mr T C (Tom) Fraser. Sir Julian Smith, managing director of John M. Fraser and Co. Ltd and an independent director of Allied Press Ltd, became Group Managing Director and Deputy Chairman of OPP.

The wheel of ownership, beginning with George Bell in 1869, turned full circle in 1986, when Sir Julian Smith, Bell’s great-great-grandson achieved a management buy-out of Otago Press and Produce, recreating Allied Press Ltd and privatising the business. He became principal shareholder, chairman of directors and managing director and his brother, Nick a substantial shareholder, director and business manager.