The first run of the Nelson Photo News is a rare and unique photographic record of life in Nelson in the early 1960s and 1970s - a time of rapid social and cultural change. The serial captures personal and community events through photographs and lively commentary.
Featuring photos by well known Nelson photographers, including Barry Simpson, Geoffrey C. Wood, Peter Cooper and Kingsford Studios, the Nelson Photo News is a comprehensive snapshot of Nelson life from the 1960s and 70s.
As the editor Barry Simpson stated in the first issue: "Our experience.. indicates that many people allow the first issue or two to be destroyed, which is regretted later..subscribers grow to value the pictorial record of community life."
Unfortunately most early issues have been discarded, and over the run only a handful of complete sets are believed to exist in private collections. Currently there are no full sets held in the public domain. However as a result of this Photo News Project and kind support from the community the Nelson Provincial Museum now has a complete set of the issues covered by the project.
The Friends of the Nelson Library Microfilm Committee responded to community pressure to do something about preserving and making accessible this valuable resource. With funds left over from other microfilming and digitisation projects a decision was made to digitise the first 12 years of the Nelson Photo News from 1960 to 1972, which covered the period of editorship under Barry Simpson and later, Peter Skinner.
To complete a shortfall in funding for the project the committee applied to be part of a Digital NZ poll, where projects throughout New Zealand competed for votes. The two highest polling projects were each awarded a $10,000 grant.
The Nelson Photo News - proved a popular choice in the Digital NZ poll, with many comments being posted on the site, including the following which will ring true with many Nelsonians. "The Photo News magazines are part of my history. Oh the excitement on the day they went on sale each month, and the competition in our house to be first to read it. I fully support this publication being digitised. On a personal level it would be great to be able to revisit these magazines. On a wider aspect, there is huge content of historical value to the Nelson region and its people."
The resulting win gave the project sufficient funds to complete the digitisation work, which will now see searchable copies of each issue from the chosen years available online.
The project is of significance not only for Nelson but also nationally. The Photo News was published under a franchise type arrangement by Logan Print Ltd in Gisborne with several regions throughout New Zealand having their own local Photo News. It is hoped that other areas may also digitise their respective issues as part of a wider Photo News project.
John Logan, eldest son of Logan Print founder Bob Logan remembers the Nelson Photo News with fondness. "I became very familiar with the comings and goings of community life in Nelson as we assembled and printed the pages of the magazines. My father held photographer/editor Barry Simpson in very high regard and we regarded him as the best of the eight other editors from around the country who belonged to the Photo News stable.
So it is perhaps fitting that Barry's magazine is the first to have been digitized and published online. I know that my local library has similar plans for Gisborne Photo News but the project is not yet completed."
The digitisation component of the Nelson Photo News project has taken around a year to complete and has been very much a collaborative effort, with the Nelson Library Microfilm Sub-committee composed of members from Nelson Public Libraries: nga whare matauranga o whakatu, the Nelson Provincial Museum: Pupuri Taonga o Te Tai Ao, the Nelson Historical Society, the Nelson Branch of the New Zealand Society of Genealogists and The Nelson Literary Scientific and Philosophical Institute.
To date the committee has been responsible for several microfilming and digitisation projects, including the microfilming of the Nelson Mail and more recently, the digitisation of the journals of the Nelson Historical Society.
The project was launched on 18th May 2011.