The four-hour board meetings held in Gore were very entertaining, Nick Smith said.
“The majority of the first two hours at least would be on local politics because everyone was the mayor of something or to be the mayor and local gossip and what was going on.
“It was a great snapshot of life in the community in those meetings.
“It was really fun.”
At the time Gore was thriving.
“Gore was still coming off being the golden mile and the tremendous money generated in the hinterland by wool and crops.”
The Ensign was also very successful.
“There was no competition for advertising dollar.”
Apart from printing the newspaper, contract print jobs were also undertaken.
Several of the supermarket groups gave away coupon books which were printed at The Ensign.
“Gore used to print them for the South Island.
“It was a tremendous job for Gore and very very profitable. That disappeared as communications changed and methods changed.”
Over time, radio became established and free community newspapers became available.
The free newspapers which had print runs of between 12,000 and 14,000 copies competed for advertising with The Ensign which was selling about 4000 copies a day.
“The advertisers preferred to get the wider coverage and the numbers, so that was just a fact of life.
“After a few years, the daily paper was becoming very unprofitable because of the cost involved, the small runs and the lack of advertising.”
In 1993, Allied Press bought the remaining shares in The Ensign.
Four years later it was decided to sell the printing press and the printing of the newspaper was done in Dunedin.
- Allied Press, which among other publications prints the Otago Daily Times, became one of the shareholders of the Gore Publishing Company (1971) in 1971 when Gore businessmen invested in the company to ensure the continued publication of The Mataura Ensign.
- The previous company, also known as the Gore Publishing Company, was in financial difficulty and it was likely the newspaper would be closed down.
- A new board was formed, which included leading Gore businessmen Hallan Smith, Gabriel Farry and Mac Tulloch as well as a representative from Allied Press.
- In 1973, the newspaper’s name was changed to The Ensign.
- In 1983, Allied Press director Nick Smith was given the task of representing his company at the monthly board meetings. Mr Smith spoke to The Ensign about his time on the board.