This weekend the world celebrates the 50th anniversary of man landing on the moon.

Te Awamutu Courier claims to be the first newspaper in the world to print news of the lunar landing.

The plates were on the press when news came through, so two paragraphs were cut from another story and journalist Ted Hunwick wrote the news which hit the Te Awamutu streets just two hours later.

Te Awamutu Space Centre owner Dave Owen has backed the claim.


"I have not been able to find any evidence of the contrary."

Owen said it was a "fluke of timing" that the Te Awamutu Courier was first to print the news.

"There was a small window of opportunity that Ted Hunwick took as the paper was nearly going to print."

Ten years ago, as the world marked the 40th anniversary of the moon landing, the Courier reported former manager John Warburton as saying it may have been the first paper in the world to run the story of the moon landing.

"We were just going to press when the news came through — the editor, Ted Hunwick typed out a few paragraphs and we replaced a few (lead) slugs on page 4."

It read: "Commander Neil Armstrong and companion Edwin Aldrin landed their lunar module Eagle in the barren wastes of the Sea of Tranquility on the moon's surface at 8.16 this morning New Zealand time". The moon walk followed that afternoon.

The report in the Te Awamutu Courier.
The report in the Te Awamutu Courier.

It's been half a century and the words still ignite goosebumps: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong stepped off a ladder on to the moon's surface and declared that famous phrase, as more than half a billion people tuned in across the globe in an astronomical feat that changed the world forever.


The Apollo Project, which was launched in 1963 and was a goal set by then US president John F Kennedy, was designed to land humans on the moon and bring them safely back to Earth.

Six of the missions (Apollos 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17) achieved this goal. Apollos 7 and 9 were Earth-orbiting missions to test the command and lunar modules and did not return lunar data.

Apollos 8 and 10 tested various components while orbiting the moon and returned photography of the lunar surface.

Apollo 13 did not land on the moon due to a malfunction but returned photographs.

Apollo 1 in 1967 was the biggest failure after a cabin fire killed the crew of three during a prelaunch test.

The six missions that landed on the moon returned a wealth of scientific data and almost 400kg of lunar samples.

But it was Apollo 11 that garnered extreme attention.

Launching from Cape Kennedy on July 16, 1969, it carried Commander Armstrong, command module pilot Michael Collins and lunar module pilot Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin into an initial Earth orbit of 114 by 116 miles.

It was a moment for everyone. A gripping, nail-biting, glorious moment.