A A George (1854-1930) established the first printing office in Market St, Hastings, in 1885.

He also printed the first newspaper, the Hastings Star, for editor James Clayton ‒ but with the population at less than 1000, the paper did not last long.

The next printer to emerge was William Hart (1863-1938), who came to Hastings from Oamaru in 1899 and established a printing business in Station St (now Russell St South).

He also took over ownership with Walter Jones from Job Vile of the Hastings Standard (an ancestor of Hawke's Bay Today) newspaper, which had begun in 1896.


Oamaru's loss would be Hastings's gain, as William Hart would contribute greatly to Hastings and become mayor in 1913-17 and 1921-22.

A few months after arriving in Hastings, William Hart nearly lost his right arm when it got stuck between the cylinders of his printing machine. However, it was badly fractured.

William sold the Hastings Standard to W C Whitlock and A W Cairncross in 1907 but retained his job printing business.

New premises were built in 1908 for the Hastings Standard on the corner of Karamu Rd and Queen St (of which the façade is presently being thankfully retained as part of the new development) for the new owners, including a printing press area.

The Hastings Standard would flourish, and become the Hawke's Bay Tribune in 1910, which merged with Napier paper Hawke's Bay Herald in 1937 to become the Hawke's Bay Herald-Tribune. A merger with Napier's Daily Telegraph in 1999 created Hawke's Bay Today.

Hart Printing Ltd moved to 106 Queen St East, and it was in this location when it was sold by William Hart to William Painter and Norman Lovell in 1928 to become Lovell and Painter Ltd.

Ron Wattie purchased the shareholding of Norman Lovell in 1930 to become Painter and Wattie Ltd. Less than a year later the business premises were wrecked by the 1931 Hawke's Bay earthquake.

The building was demolished and a temporary building of corrugated iron and wood under the name of Painter and Wattie Ltd was put in place.


When Painter left the company in 1936 to join Swailes Printing in Napier, Ron purchased all the shares and changed the name to Wattie Ltd.

Ron's brother James began a fruit pulping operation in 1934, which became J Wattie Canneries and all the initial printing for Wattie's was done from 106 Queen St East.

Ron Wattie's wife was Edna Hart (1906 ‒1988) who was the daughter of William Hart of Hart Printing Ltd. They divorced and Edna later bought out Ron in 1947, changing the name to Hart Printing House Ltd in memory of her father.

Ron Wattie then focused on the Rosewood Box Company, which he had previously started in Hastings and then transferred to Hamilton.

In 1982, Hart Printing House was sold to four employees who renamed it Hart Printing & Stationery Ltd.

Temporary buildings erected in Hastings after the earthquake were supposed to be pulled down and replaced with permanent structures after a couple of years. A few never did this, some plastering over the wood and a few were even left in their original form of wood and iron.

Upon the business being sold in 1988 to Brebner Print in Napier, it is interesting to note that the temporary building erected after the 1931 Hawke's Bay earthquake for Painter and Wattie still existed.

If you look at the façade of the former building in Queen St, you can still see in a circle the emblem of Wattie Ltd.

The advent of high-quality office photocopiers, home printers and personal computers has affected the industry since the 1980s, whereas the printing industry once had numerous different businesses in Hastings and Napier, this has now consolidated.

*Signed copies of Michael Fowler's Historic Hawke's Bay book are only available from the Hastings Community Art Centre, Russell St South, Hastings for $65.

*Michael Fowler FCA (mfhistory@gmail.com) is a chartered accountant, contract researcher and writer of Hawke's Bay's history.