New Zealand Truth hits the news stands

24 June 1905

Earthquake-damaged NZ Truth office, Wellington, 1950
Earthquake-damaged NZ Truth office, Wellington, 1950 (Alexander Turnbull Library, 114/103/01-G)

At its peak in the 1950s and 1960s, New Zealand Truth prided itself on being ‘the champion of the little person and the scourge of corruption and scandal in high places’.

The weekly newspaper, founded by Australian John Norton, was modelled on populist papers across the Tasman. In its first decades, Truth took a markedly left-wing stance on many issues. It regularly attacked fat-cat businessmen, hypocritical politicians, and prudish ‘wowsers’, a term popularised by Norton in Australia.

By the 1950s, one in every two New Zealand households bought it. Although the paper relied on crime and deviance for much of its news, it also had a deep concern for conformity, morality, and law and order.

In the 1960s and 1970s Truth became increasingly conservative, railing against ‘Reds under the bed’, unionists, bludgers and long-haired students. By the time its office moved from Wellington to Auckland in the early 1980s, both the paper’s readership and its influence were on the wane. Sustained in its last years by sex industry advertising, it ceased publication in mid-2013.