Printing in New Zealand

D. F. McKenzie

For the missionaries, printing was the great hope. "We feel very much the want of a Printing Press, to work off some copies of portions of Scripture, which could be read by several natives now with us," Davis had written to the Church Missionary Society in 1827. In 1828 Williams wrote: "We want a printer, and a printer we must have." The plea to the Church Missionary Society was twice repeated in 1829. When the long-sought-after press did arrive, it was an anticlimax, proving that technology in itself is nothing without a human mind and dedicated skill to make it work in a context where it matters. In 1830, William Yate brought a small press from Sydney, and a fifteen-year-old James Smith to help him. Neither Yate nor Smith had any professional competence. (From "Oral Culture, Literacy & Print in early New Zealand: the Treaty of Waitangi," 21).

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