Auckland Libraries have copies of the ‘Devonport Gazette’, and its successor the ‘North Shore Gazette; the official Waitemata paper’, from the first issue of 3 November 1921 to 12 May 1948, with a large number of missing issues from 1 August 1930. Before 1 August 1930 there are only two missing issues. In 2016 the North Shore Historical Society generously funded the restoration of the earlier and poorly preserved issues, from 1921 to 1927. It wasn’t a cheap or easy process, some issues needed to be removed from inferior bindings, and great care was needed.
More recently, Devonport Museum donated 19 copies of the ‘North Shore Gazette’ to Auckland Libraries, dating from August 1934 to March 1947. Thanks to similar generous funding by Devonport Museum, those copies are now also restored. All copies can be viewed at Heritage Collections, Second Floor, Auckland Central Library.
Ultimately, I hope that all remaining issues of this title, which includes a collection at National Library in Wellington covering 9 January 1936 to 30 June 1938, can all be digitised and made available via ‘Papers Past’.
During the earlier 1920s most issues of the ‘Devonport Gazette and greater North Shore Advocate, Who’s Who directory and Ratepayer’s Chronicle’ had just four pages, but the paper was slightly thicker than that of other newspapers of the time. Likely that was to best present the promotional photographs of actors and scenes from the silent movies, which were being shown at the Victoria Theatre in Devonport. That theatre was in the same building as the printer and publisher of the ‘Gazette’ and copies were freely available to non-Devonport residents attending the films. In the beginning, copies were freely distributed across the Devonport area, but later sold for one penny each. At various times the newspaper also reproduced photographs of local places and people.
At first only Devonport Borough Council meetings were reported on, but there was some focus on wider North Shore activities. At the 1922 General Elections the ‘Gazette’ unsuccessfully supported the local Liberal Party opponent to the sitting Reform M.P. for the Waitemata electorate. At the 1923 Devonport Borough Council elections both the printer (James William Henry Martin) and editor (Thomas Walsh) unsuccessfully stood for that Council, but from around September 1924 they went their separate ways in a business sense. Having operated a printing business in Devonport since January 1915, Martin and family went into bankruptcy in 1930 and they were succeeded by Frank Stanburg Procter and family as owners of the printing and publishing business. Martin died in 1946 aged 78, while Procter died in 1966 aged 71.
From 13 November 1924, the focus of the newspaper was intentionally widened to include the then settled areas of Belmont, Bayswater, Takapuna, Milford, Glenfield, Northcote, Birkenhead, Birkdale and Chelsea. Reports from Takapuna Borough Council meetings were now included and there was additional focus on the rest of the North Shore. The newspaper also later became the ‘North Shore Gazette and Victoria Theatre Courier’. Note that in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, Devonport was still the largest population centre on the North Shore.
We are lucky that we have this unique local newspaper available for this fascinating time in the history of the North Shore, particularly for Devonport.
While I have your attention, I assist at Devonport Museum and we have recently upgraded our website – go towww.devonportmuseum.org.nz/. I am also on the North Shore Historical Society committee and our first 2021 meeting is on 20th February in the Senior Citizen’s Hall, next to Takapuna Library, at 10am. Historian Lisa Truttman presents ‘Death on Cardwell Street: the murder of Ernestina Norgrove, 1928’. She examines the New Lynn murder, the life of Ernestina Norgrove (née Henderson), and the legal aftermath that saw the murderer Alan George Norgrove walk away a free man after less than 14 years in prison. It’s $2 cash entry, including morning tea.