The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Brett, Henry

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Brett, Henry, J.P., an enterprising newspaper proprietor and publisher in New Zealand, who has issued a large number of standard works on colonial subjects, was born in the south of England, and brought up to the printing trade in the office of his uncle, the proprietor of the Hastings and St. Leonards Gazette. He left for New Zealand with the Non-conformist special settlers in 1862, intending to settle upon the land, but on arrival at Auckland the vessel was boarded by a representative of the Daily Southern Cross in search of compositors, and Mr. Brett was persuaded to accept an engagement on that paper. Shortly afterwards he joined the reporting staff of the New Zealand Herald and maintained his connection with that journal till 1870, when for the sum of £90 he acquired a third interest in the Evening Star, which had been recently started by Mr. G. M. Reid, and was then in a struggling condition. By the infusion of additional energy, and the employment of carrier pigeons to supply the want of telegraphs in those days—this being one of the most successful innovations in journalism introduced by Mr. Brett—the Star forged ahead and extinguished its evening rival. In Feb. 1876, Mr. Reid disposed of his interest to Mr. Brett, the share of the third partner having previously been acquired by the firm, Mr. Brett thus becoming sole proprietor. He has since disposed of a partnership interest to Mr. T. W. Leys, who succeeded Mr. Reid in the editorship of the paper, which is commonly reported to have the largest circulation in New Zealand. The second publishing venture of the firm was the Auckland Almanack and Provincial Handbook, started in 1872; and they have also established the New Zealand Farmer and Bee and Poultry Journal, a monthly agricultural magazine, and more recently the New Zealand Graphic, Mr. Brett, who is a director of the New Zealand Press Association and President of the Auckland Choral Society, occupied a seat in the Auckland City Council from 1874 to 1878, and in the latter year, without a contest, was chosen Mayor.