The Southern Cross was started as a weekly paper in Auckland in 1843 by prominent businessman and aspiring politician, William Brown. It was one of the two early newspapers in Auckland that ran for any length of time, the other being its main rival, the New Zealander.

The first editor of the Southern Cross was Samuel Martin who had earlier edited the New Zealand Herald and Auckland Gazette for a short time in 1842.

Despite the existence of two other papers in Auckland at the time (the Auckland Chronicle and Auckland Times) the Southern Cross developed reasonably well until 1845, when war with Māori in Northland adversely affected business in Auckland. As a result the paper stop publishing from April 1845 to July 1847.

In 1847 Campbell revived the Southern Cross to counteract another Auckland newspaper, the New Zealander which had started two years earlier in June 1845. The two papers represented the rival factions in Auckland politics. The New Zealander supported the ordinary settler and Māori while the Southern Cross supported the land claimants and vigorously attacked Governor George Grey’s administration.

At this time there was nothing unusual in the highly partisan attitudes of these papers. Before 1870, newspapers in New Zealand were primarily set up for political purposes. In the absence of self-government newspapers were the main way that those who weren’t officials could participate in government.

In 1862 the Southern Cross became the first daily newspaper in Auckland, changing its name to the Daily Southern Cross. The New Zealander soon followed suit.

In 1869 Julius Vogel assumed control of the paper but left to take up national office before he could do much with it, selling his interest in 1873. The paper had always struggled to pay its way. In the 1870s the owners were faced with the expense of shifting (the Improvement Commissioners planned to put a street through their property) and unable to agree on the direction that the paper should take. They decided to sell up instead. Alfred Horton bought the paper in 1876 and went into partnership with the Wilson brothers who owned the New Zealand Herald. At the end of that year the Southern Cross was incorporated into the Herald.

The Southern Cross had started the Weekly News in 1863 and when the Southern Cross was incorporated into the Herald, the Weekly News was merged with the Weekly Herald to become the Auckland Weekly News.

The New Zealander and the Southern Cross are good examples of the way the country’s press was politically aligned at the time and this was mirrored in other centres around New Zealand.

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