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Editorial: Hawke’s Bay Today is turning 25 – but we’re not popping champagne corks

Editor Written by Editor · 2 min read >

The original home of Hawke’s Bay Today in 1999, at the old Herald Tribune premises.


Hawke’s Bay Today has reached a significant milestone. Today we’re 25.

On May 3, 1999, the two papers of record in Napier and Hastings – the Daily Telegraph and Hawke’s Bay Herald-Tribunemerged after 45 years of competition into what is now your morning paper.

In cricket, a batter never raises their bat when they reach half of a half-century.

Today we’re following the spirit of the great game by choosing to keep this milestone relatively muted.

It would feel particularly odd to pop champagne corks on a week in which Hawke’s Bay lost a paper with an enormous legacy, the 102-year-old Wairoa Star.

The closure is devastating for the 11 staff and my thoughts go out to all of them. It’s also a blow for Wairoa.

Hawke’s Bay Today is committed to covering stories from all parts of Hawke’s Bay, and we’ve already started looking at ways to bolster our northern Hawke’s Bay reporting to tell the first draft of Wairoa’s history in the Star’s absence.

Hawke's Bay Today editor Chris Hyde.
Hawke’s Bay Today editor Chris Hyde.

Often media companies use milestone anniversaries like our one today to look back at the big events that have shaped them.

We toyed with this, having done just that for our 20th anniversary.

In the five years since that song and dance, we’ve had two truly historic regional stories to cover – Covid and Cyclone Gabrielle.

They have shaped our local reporting in so many ways, but in my opinion, they’re also not something our audience particularly wants to look back on regularly right now.

It still feels like we’re recovering from their one-two jab (boxing punches, not vaccines). We’re still dizzy.

All of which is a whimsical way of saying we’re going easy on the anniversary this year so that we don’t have to dredge everything up again.

Perhaps the most important aspect of this anniversary, is that it’s a people anniversary.

– Reporter Doug Laing has now spent 25 years with HBT (and close to 25 more before that at other HB papers)

– Visual journalist Warren Buckland – 25 years with HBT

And there’s Tina Mucalo, Vanessa Shipp and Shirley Randell in our commercial team who were also here when the first paper came off the press and into your homes.

And of course, you, our subscribers. For many of you, this is your anniversary – 25 years of receiving Hawke’s Bay Today’s news.

I had an email from two of you recently saying that you saw our offers for free air fryers and coffee machines for new subscribers to the paper.

You felt, very reasonably, that we should also give them to the longest-supporting subscribers as a treat too.

The reality is that thousands of you have been with us since day one.

Hawke's Bay Today newspaper's first edition, May 3, 1999.
Hawke’s Bay Today newspaper’s first edition, May 3, 1999.

There are 4247 subcribers who have been receiving the paper since our records began (subscriber data going back further than 12 years was unfortunately lost during a 2013 system change).

That’s a lot of air fryers. We’d either have to build a new wharf at the port to ship them all in, or the trucks would rip up the Napier-Taupō Rd. We really don’t want another overnight closure any time soon.

All jokes aside, we could not do what we do without your loyal support or the support of our long-standing advertisers.

It’s you who keeps us in a strong commercial place in a challenging market. It’s you allowing us to hire some of the best up-and-coming journalists in NZ to tell your region’s stories.

You’ve been with us through a lot.

We hope we make you proud in a crisis, and give you plenty to smile, rage, debate, cry and occasionally laugh about every day.

The most important thing we’ll always do is keep you informed – whether it be in print, on the radio or online.

That’s what local media organisations are for.

The fact the Wairoa Star can no longer do that job for its community hurts all of us.

Chris Hyde is the editor of Hawke’s Bay Today. He has 10 years of experience in regional newsrooms across the country.

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