The “Big Little Paper”
The current owners, Charlotte and Jo Richards, are the latest in a line of community-minded locals who together have created and driven the evolution of a truly local paper. Although they are the current custodians of the title, the couple owe a great debt to their predecessors, who started the ball rolling decades ago.
The history of the Bay’s newspapers began in the 1980s when demand for local news prompted the launch of The Golden Bay Community News, a monthly sheaf of stapled A4 pages produced by an editorial committee of longstanding residents including Derry Kingston. It relied entirely on contributions and advertisers depositing copy and money in a box outside The Wholemeal Café in Takaka. The publication featured covers designed by local artists and ran for 20 years, but advertising was limited by its monthly schedule.
In 1992, to address the need for weekly advertising, Derry published the first copy of The GB Weekly. It was intended to be a local information service – produced “in the Bay for the Bay” – and to compliment the Community News. By its third edition, page one displayed public notices, page two classifieds, and page three shopping and page four employment.
It didn’t take long for The GB Weekly to become part of the Bay’s culture. By its third birthday, Derry’s successor as manager and editor, Marie Koch, had turned it into a small business that supported a number of part-time workers. Minor articles began to appear and letters to the editor was established. A move to computer-based publishing meant hand-drawn adverts gave way to a more professional look.
Production of the Community News eventually ended but local competition sprang up in the form of The Takaka Print News (later renamed The Golden Bay Gazette). The paper only had a brief run from 1996 – 1998, however, and its demise left The GB Weekly as the sole local paper.
By 1999, the GBW had assumed its familiar character with its Algerian font title, bar headings and extended news articles. And then, in 2002, after ?? years at the helm, Maria Koch sold the paper to school teachers Marg Braggins and Neil Wilson, who had moved from Geraldine where Marg had founded a monthly community paper. Along with the change of ownership, the publication’s HQ moved to the couple’s home in Pohara.
In 2008, as papers moved increasingly online, Marg and Neil introduced a website allowing The GB Weekly to be read anywhere in the world. A year later reflecting changes in the publishing world the moved from A4-size to tabloid format and was produced in colour for the first time.
The change in format meant that printing was moved out of the Bay, first to Blenheim by Marlborough Express and later to Inkwise in Rolleston, where it remains.
In 2017 Golden Bay residents Jo and Charlotte Richards bought the title from Marg and Neil. Jo had been a reporter with the paper for six years, so knew a bit about how the paper worked. They initially retained the HQ in Pohara but, in early 2019, moved the office to Takaka where it is now based.
In 2020, the evolution of The GB Weekly continued with a new banner for the print issue and a re-designed website for the online version.