The History of Snowfed

“Snowfed” is approaching 38 years old but to the Methven community it began its life as  “The Diamond Press.”

The Methven readers first read about the new venture on a one page flyer. A grocery hamper was offered as a prize to the person, who chose the most appropriate name, with entries closing at Methven High School on March 21.  Advertising rates were outlined, contacts were included. Katreena Glanville and Brenda McGinity were there when there was one advertisement and one news item. The intent of the weekly newspaper ‘was to help raise funds to enable field trips crucial to the then Methven District High School (later renamed Mt Hutt College) Geography course to be undertaken. The first edition was named "The Diamond Press."

The venture was the brainchild of Geography teacher, Bruce Dickson, who had seen a similar successful newspaper produced in Reefton. The first edition of “The Snowfed Schoolline” appeared on 7th April 1986 after two editions of The Diamond Press. (The main news item of the first edition was about the weather – over 100mm reported in 24 hours.)

The name, selected by the Geography Students, was submitted by Chris Staples.

The first three editions were published on A4 newsprint and run off on the Mount Hutt Ski Company’s gestetner, thanks to the generosity of Phil Witton. It was made available to use on a Saturday morning. It was situated in the back room, amongst the publicity brochure boxes, of the Mount Hutt Office at the corner of MacMillan Street and Forest Drive.

The stencils had been prepared and typed in the office at Methven High School on the Friday afternoon. Students brought the information to Nan Leask and Margaret McLeod to type.

Using the gestetner was an interesting experience, according to Bruce, "Black ink gestetner stencils and lots of breakdowns. The paper wastage was certainly high. Memories include using the manual gestetner from Our Lady of the Snows School – all that turning of the handle to produce 800–1000 copies each week,” recalls Bruce.

Popularity soon picked up and the weekly “Snowfed” as it became known as, was produced on foolscap white paper. Each year the Form 5 and Form 6 Geography students assisted each week with each student taking a turn as Editor.

Within four years the Methven Community had accepted Snowfed and had supported a fundraising effort to buy a printer that would print 130 pages per minute while Geography teacher, Bruce Dickson, had introduced a Media Studies class to produce the weekly paper. There were 16 students producing weekly news items in 1991.

Production and circulation increased, delivered each week not only in Methven but also by the rural mail operators. A second printer was purchased through donations and more and sharper photographs were able to be produced. The production room was now at the end of A Block and more adult help had come on board.

Snowfed has come a long way since our humble beginnings, but we are still a newspaper committed to the Methven and Foothills communities. Now in 2024, we have the largest circulation we have ever had. It continues to grow, reaching out onto the Canterbury Plains to State Highway One, to the edges of Ashburton and Rakaia, inland to Mayfield, up the Ashburton Gorge, following the hills to the Rakaia Gorge. Our circulation continues to grow and our wonderful advertisers and readership are the prime focus of everything we do - our heart is with the community and for the community.

Now printed in Christchurch thanks to the incredible team at Canprint, our much-loved community newspaper is full of colour - a far cry from the days of one colour on a gestetner! The team at Canprint are legends and are committed to supporting us with excellent service all year!

We do close for a couple of weeks over the Christmas/New Year period, but otherwise we are open for business!

We believe we may be the only newspaper in New Zealand and perhaps Australasia owned by the local college. We are not a huge corporate, so our prices are kept competitive but comparatively low, with our small profit margin going back into the Mt Hutt College community.

We remain a true community newspaper!