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New Zealand's Burning — The Settlers' World in the Mid 1880s

The village and the globe?

The village and the globe?

Our study of the summer's fires has amply illustrated how rapidly and efficiently information flowed throughout the country. No one spending a little time with the 1880s newspaper shipping and commercial columns can doubt that the speedy exchange of telegraphed information was daily shaping the country's economic activities. Coastal shipping was clearly being directed by a flow of telegrams relating to cargoes, the weather, and conditions at the various ports. In a valuable article Eric Pawson and Neil Quigley have shown how the rapid growth of modern forms of transport and communications transformed life in Canterbury between 1850 and 1890, and permitted its greater integration into the trade and markets of the colony.2 Surely all of this must have rapidly led to a predominantly ‘New Zealand’ consciousness? We now turn to the newspaper press to show that in fact it was fostering a ‘village and globe’ outlook at least as efficiently as a ‘New Zealand’ one. We look first at the local ‘Our Own Correspondents’ as a page 221 ‘village’ feature, next turn to the agricultural pages of some of the mai weeklies to illustrate the ‘global’ impact of the press, and then return to the local scene to examine the work of ‘Our Travelling Reporters’. We conclude with an overview of the role of the press in colonial life of the 1880s.