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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]

Mr. Arthur McKee

Mr. Arthur McKee, of the firm of McKee and Gamble, and one of the directors of the Cyclopedia Company, Limited, arrived in New Zealand in December, 1890. Mr. McKee was born at Liverpool, Laneashire, in July, 1863, and fifteen years later he made a start in life in the commercial department of the Liverpool Lantern, an illustrated weekly journal of the satirical and humorous order, and three years later still was promoted to the position of manager. Mr. MeKee's bent, however, was in the direction of the literary side of journalism, and for several years he was a diligent student at the lectures of the Liverpool University College, using his spare time to acquire a knowledge of “the winged art,” which, at that time, was the first and essential rung in the journalistic ladder. And so it came about that, when nineteen years of age, the subject of this sketch accepted a position on the reporting staff of the Newspaper and Advertiser, a bi-weekly published in St. Helens, which is distant some twelve miles from Liverpool, has a borough population of over 70,000, and is known to the world as a great glass-making, chemical-producing, and coal-raising centre. A change of scene became necessary, and Mr. McKee had “a spell” with newspapers in the South of England, but rejoined the St. Helen's Press, and later accepted an appointment on the reporting staff of the Liverpool Daily Courier. He was married in 1887, and in the following year launched the St. Helens Chronicle, an eight page newspaper. Mr. McKee (who was one of the early members of the British Institute of Journalists) assumed the editorship, and was probably the youngest occupant of an editorial chair in the Old Country. The opposition was keen, calling forth exertion of a most arduous character, but in the face of many obstacles The Chronicle gradually “made for” the front, and after the lapse of six months had the largest circulation in the district. Surrounded and aided by a small band of enthusiasts in the social cause, Mr. McKee made the most of his position, in the interest of the overworked operatives. It became necessary for him to accompany his brother, an invalid, to a climate more genial than that of the North of England, and he sold out his interest in the now prosperous business at a satisfactory price, and embarked for the “Fair Land of the South.” Here his page 729 intention was to publish a work on “The Industries of New Zealand”—an idea suggested by a series of publications of a similar character brought out in the Old Country. Mr. McKee is a great advocate of the power of illustration; and recognising as he did that a publication of the kind indicated must needs be freely illustrated, he was disappointed to find that the modern “process” block, which has revolutionized the world of illustration, had not yet made its appearance in New Zealand. It was at this time that the firm of McKee and Gamble was started, and extended reference is made under the heading of “Publishers,” to the remarkable development of this well-known house. Three years were spent in “process” experiments, under the direction of Mr. Gamble. And when the firm were about to launch their “Industries of New Zealand” it came to their knowledge that Messrs. J. R. Randerson and J. C. Edwards had also embarked on a similar enterprise. The negotiations which followed resulted in a combination of forces for the production of a great national work, which, as a book of reference concerning industry and commerce, is unique in the world's history. Mr. McKee has a wide circle of friends, and is a member of several local institutions. As a member of the Wellington Bowling Club, he is an enthusiastic bowler, and has twice been a winner of the Champion Pairs at the annual tournaments under the auspices of the Northern Bowling Association. As a business man, Mr. McKee has few peers, being possessed of an inexhaustible fund of energy, and an acuteness of discernment which is by no means common.
View of Premises showing entrance on Custom House Quay and the factory at the factory at the rear.—See page 733.

View of Premises showing entrance on Custom House Quay and the factory at the factory at the rear.—See page 733.