NZ press agency files final take. – ends –

The New Zealand Press Association filed its final story a few minutes ago at 2pm MYT (6pm NZT), closing down after 131 years. It was the only independent news agency in the country. Forty remaining staff are now out of work, including Peter Martinez (of the NST, Star and Sun) who went there two decades ago.

Leigh Catley, a former NZPA executive, told AFP the balanced, thorough reporting provided by NZPA would be sorely missed. “Without a doubt Kiwis just don’t realise what they are losing,” she said. “NZPA was an objective, clear and straightforward recorder of daily events in New Zealand.”

Three Australian-owned services will start filling in the gap from tomorrow.

APN News & Media, which owns the NZ Herald newspaper, starts its APNZ service to its chain of 50 New Zealand newspapers which will also contribute copy to APNZ for use by subscribing papers.

Its main rival Fairfax New Zealand is starting Fairfax New Zealand News, or FNZN, which will also share copy between its 70-plus newspapers in New Zealand through existing newsrooms and additional sport, business and political bureaus.

On Monday the Australian Association Press starts an NZ Newswire with reporters in Wellington and Auckland, supported by freelancers.

“We didn’t seek to be setting up a news service in New Zealand,” said AAP editor-in-chief Tony Gillies. “I think we would all prefer that NZPA continue. Every country deserves a free and independent voice in media, and news agencies generally fill this role.”