The history of the Wellington Independent is interwoven with that of other early newspapers in the Capital, particularly the New Zealand Spectator and Cook’s Strait Guardian (1844-1865) and the New Zealand Gazette and Britannia Spectator (1839-1844).

The New Zealand Spectator began in Wellington in 1844 immediately after the demise of the Gazette (which was New Zealand’s first newspaper). In 1845 the Spectator’s owners sacked the printers of the paper after they ran a provocative advertisement. As a result the printers decided to set up a rival paper – the Wellington Independent.

The first issue of the Independent came out on 2 April 1845 but publication stopped four months later when the paper’s equipment was sold to the Spectator to pay off its owner’s debts. The owner of the equipment, Samuel Revans, had previously edited the Gazette and had also supplied the provocative advertisement to the Spectator that led to the printers being sacked. By November that year the Independent got another press and soon established itself as the more popular paper. It went on to outlive the Spectator by nine years.

The Independent was more popular because it advocated for representative government against the Spectator, which supported Governor George Grey’s preference for continuing with colonial rule.

According to GH Scholefield (Newspapers in New Zealand, 1958) the Independent was one of the best newspapers in New Zealand. It had considerable influence, which can be seen from the contributors who included James Edward Wakefield, William Fox, Edward Stafford and Dillon Bell.

The paper failed to expand in the 1860s and 1870s but was still a going concern when it was replaced by the New Zealand Times in 1874. In 1873 it was sold to Julius Vogel’s New Zealand Times Company. Vogel planned to publish a national newspaper from Wellington to be used to further his political ambitions. In 1874 he replaced the Independent with his new paper the New Zealand Times which continued the serial numbering from the Independent. The Times didn’t become a national paper but it did continue until 1927, when it was absorbed by the Dominion.

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