An exhibition displaying a selection of photographs from the Gisborne Photo News is on view within the stairwell to Te Moana - Maritime Gallery
This exhibition supports the recent launch of the Gisborne Photo News website:
The Gisborne Photo News was a local photographic news magazine, a monthly publication that was hugely popular from its first appearance on 1 June 1954. A locally produced community magazine, it cost 2 shillings and its 56 pages were packed with photographs of the region’s people and events. Its popularity continued for more than 20 years. The final issue of 5 November 1975 cost 40c. and was 66 pages long.
Within the first issue the aims of the magazine were clearly laid out by initiator and editor Robert Logan.
“It is customary, when new publications are born, to give readers an editorial on the aims and objects with which the enterprise is launched. Our aims and objects are brief. They are, above all else, to interest and entertain our readers with news of Gisborne in words and pictures. From day to day our cameras will be recording the contemporary scene in Gisborne and district. We think you will find our pages a fascinating record of life in this community.
In addition, our publication may help to promote interest in community life. Pictures often do bring a deeper awareness of what our fellow citizens are doing. We hope we can be of service along these lines. Certainly we can say here and now that there will be no intention in “Gisborne Photo News” to bring hurt or harm to the community or to any member of the community. We anticipate that “Photo News” will get a warm welcome to the local scene. We hope and trust that this welcome will grow into tangible support for our venture. There will be many to whom “Photo News” is a source of pride. With the publication of this first issue Gisborne becomes the only town in New Zealand with its own picture magazine. Many copies will be sent by readers to friends and relatives living in other parts of the country, there to maintain and promote interest in Gisborne and its affairs. Apart therefore from our aim to interest and entertain we shall endeavour to be a good advertisement for Gisborne.
A page of pictures is vastly more expensive to produce than a page of reading matter, and so our price is a little higher than we would like it to be. But it is still cheaper than the cheapest photograph you can buy, and it is less still if you care to subscribe on the terms printed elsewhere on this page. We do recommend you to become a subscriber. Because of the high cost of paper, the number of copies printed for casual sale will be strictly limited, and you may often find yourself unable to secure a copy. By subscription, on the other hand, delivery of your copy each month by post is guaranteed.
And so (as it was fashionable to say in the days when new publications were more frequent than now), we make our bow and leave our fate, dear reader, in your hands.”
Success extended to the concept being taken up by other districts until production costs became prohibitive.
In his last issue Logan reports;
“Setting up the original plant, much of it home-made, gathering the photographs, and producing that first issue of “Gisborne Photo News” was a daunting task, and occupied nearly all the first half of 1954. The final chore before the magazine was “put to bed,” as they say in the newspaper game, was to write a brief but hopeful note introducing the venture to its prospective readers.
“Photo News” was a completely new concept in magazine publishing, an attempt to distil the essence of community life and times in a publication which was essentially photographic. The first tryout was in a small North Canterbury town, Rangiora, in 1953, where it lost money and was abandoned. The enterprise was then transferred to Gisborne, a much larger town, and tried again, using the rear part of an old brick house in Aberdeen Road as a factory. That first issue sold only 900 copies, but with each succeeding month the number increased, ultimately reaching over 8000.
Now the time has come to write a note of a different kind, bidding farewell to the little magazine which for the past 21 years has been so much a part of the Gisborne scene. It is the last of a chain of similar magazines which grew from that shaky start, which we published in New Plymouth, Wanganui, Nelson, Tauranga, Whangarei, Rotorua and Palmerston North, and which other people at various times, imitating our success, published in Auckland, Hamilton, Napier, Lower Hutt, Blenheim, the West Coast, Christchurch, Timaru, Dunedin and Invercargill.”
This displays features typical Photo News images and some less well known in an enlarged uncropped form. The Gisborne Photo News has been digitised and each issue is viewable at www.photonews.org.nz/gisborne