Rotorua Daily Post - - Our People -

I have seen huge changes in the ter­mi­nol­ogy and tech­nol­ogy used to pro­duce news­pa­pers dur­ing nearly 50 years in the in­dus­try. I learnt “hot metal” was not an al­ter­na­tive de­scrip­tion of thrash metal just as “cold type” did not mean a frigid vir­gin. Now, as a fully paid-up mem­ber of the Old Farts Club, I barely un­der­stand what is meant to­day by “plat­forms” — ex­cept they are not re­fer­ring to places where you catch trains.

In 1971, armed with a news­pa­per jour­nal­ism cer­tifi­cate from Welling­ton Polytech­nic, I went to Ti­maru and the Kerr-fam­ily owned Ti­maru Her­ald .I chose Ti­maru be­cause I had no rel­a­tives there who might re­port my mis­deeds to my par­ents.

There were three cadets: me and two boys who had to try out for the court and po­lice round. Two se­nior re­porters and the ed­i­tor, Ge­orge Gaffney, agreed it should be me.

I used to go to every court ses­sion with wads of copy pa­per and car­bon pa­per. I would have to write the court cases out by hand and then sit while Gaffney subbed it. I never got any­thing wrong twice. We did ev­ery­thing, in­clud­ing traf­fic cases.

The ed­i­to­rial staff was over­whelm­ingly male, ex­cept for the Lady Ed­i­tor (I kid you not). A cou­ple of women joined the staff while I was there.

On Sun­days the poor­est-paid staff (the cadets) had to work. One of our jobs was sports re­sults. If we couldn’t get them right, we would be made to redo them. Thanks to the strict dis­ci­pline, I now know how to read a cricket score­book and write a story from one. That was a huge achieve­ment as, to my fa­ther and the rest of Ma¯ oridom, cricket was even more alien than soc­cer.

The Ti­maru Her­ald was an eye­opener. For a start it had clas­si­fied ad­ver­tise­ments on the front page. It didn’t move to news on the front page un­til 1977. Its printed words were typed out of lead which was melted and re­cy­cled. It was dirty look­ing, typ­i­cal of the hot-metal papers.

I had came from Ro­torua where I was used to read­ing the Daily Post, which was one of the pi­o­neers in the cold-type pre­sen­ta­tion of papers — no melt­ing pots of lead, just type­set­ters and com­pos­i­tors who cut up strips of pa­per ready for the cam­era.

I worked at the Daily Post in two stretches, as a re­porter and years later as a sub.

Subs used to shoot sto­ries for the pa­per in lit­tle round per­spex con­tain­ers down a La­ma­son tube to the print­ers. If a story had wider ap­peal than Ro­torua, a car­bon copy would be taken to the Post Of­fice and sent by teleprinter to the of­fices of the New Zealand Press As­so­ci­a­tion in Welling­ton and thence to the rest of the coun­try.

Be­tween Ti­maru and Ro­torua I worked as sole charge re­porter at the Pu­taruru Press and as a re­porter on the South Waikato News in Toko­roa.

I hadn’t got the rest­less­ness out of my soul so I went to Hast­ings where I worked in the Napier of­fice of the Hast­ings-based Hawke’s Bay Her­ald Tri­bune.

I re­turned to Ro­torua the week Elvis Pres­ley died in Au­gust, 1977.


In 1986, I went to the New Zealand Her­ald in Auck­land. I loved work­ing at the Her­ald and I loved Auck­land.

But it was one of the most test­ing times of my life.

I had a lovely man, my soul mate and the rea­son I moved to Auck­land. His name was Paddy Poumako and I met him in Toko­roa where I boarded with his par­ents while I worked on the South Waikato News. Paddy was a soldier and we lived in Pa­pakura Camp un­til he was posted to Waiouru. We bought a house at Manukau and planned to re­turn to Ro­torua in about three years when he re­tired from the army. But in Au­gust 1988 he was in­volved in a head-on col­li­sion. A speed­ing driver came too fast round a cor­ner near Ti­rau. Paddy suf­fered crit­i­cal in­juries and died in Waikato Hospi­tal about 24 hours later.

I re­ally ap­pre­ci­ated the pres­ence of then sube­d­i­tor Rod Pas­coe and chief sube­d­i­tor at the time, Gerry Wal­lis, at his fu­neral in Nga¯ puna and the sen­si­tive treat­ment I re­ceived on my re­turn to work. Some­times, even months later, I found it dif­fi­cult to even get out of bed. The ed­i­to­rial man­age­ment team went the ex­tra mile for me and never docked my pay. From that time on they had my un­di­vided loy­alty.

I was in at the start when the Her­ald in­tro­duced “new tech­nol­ogy”, as a mem­ber of the team that tested “di­rect ed­i­to­rial in­put”. Gavin El­lis was our team leader. It was ex­cit­ing to be in­volved in such a ma­jor project and we wrote the user man­ual and trained the re­porters and subs — the younger re­porters eas­ier to train than the older subs! The sports guys took the cake. We es­tab­lished a good rap­port and I didn’t mind go­ing at a speed that suited them.

For a short time I was the Her­ald’s chief sube­d­i­tor, but that didn’t work out — prob­a­bly be­cause I was too dif­fer­ent.

Luck­ily for me the Her­ald needed a rac­ing sub. I didn’t know any­thing about rac­ing but those guys taught me what I needed to know about it and I’m a quick study and was ea­ger to learn.

Rac­ing was just across the way, so I filled in for them, too, which helped when I went to the Her­ald on Sun­day whose first edi­tion was pub­lished on Oc­to­ber, 3, 2004.

Even though I re­tired in 2006 to

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