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Stuff Group purchases Times-Age

The country’s largest digital and print news media business, Stuff Group, has bought the Wairarapa Times-Age from National Media Limited, with current owner Andrew Denholm joining Stuff in a new role.

The sale includes the daily Wairarapa Times-Age [WTA], the weekly Wairarapa Midweek, and Wairarapa Property, the digital news site, and social media properties. WTA joins Stuff’s portfolio of regional and local news products, which together form New Zealand’s largest regional news network.

Denholm, who has owned WTA since 2016 and has worked there for the past 15 years, says it was the right decision to partner with a large-scale media company, committed to strong local journalism and with expertise in digital transformation.

“Being a standalone, small media company has been challenging in recent months, and this sale will bring real benefits to our commercial partners and our very loyal local readership,” he said.

“I am really pleased that we will retain local leadership, journalists, and sales teams in Wairarapa while having the efficiencies available through a large digital, print, audio and video business.”

Stuff Group chief executive Laura Maxwell said the purchase brings Stuff’s scale, support systems, and broad commercial opportunities to WTA while ensuring a deep connection to the community remains. “At Stuff, we are national, and we are local,” she said.

“National includes New Zealand’s largest digital news website stuff.co.nz; our social media network Neighbourly; our digital audio business; events like Central District Field Days; our national print mastheads including NZ Farmer, the Sunday Star-Times; and our magazine network including NZ House & Garden. But we are local too. WTA joins the Manawatu Evening Standard, Taranaki Daily News, and our flagship Wellington brand The Post digital and print masthead, leading the lower North Island market with strong local media.”

Created in 1938 by the merger of two local titles, WTA was owned by NZME [then APN News & Media] before being bought by Denholm in 2016. In 2022 it was named Regional Newspaper of the Year.

Stuff managing director masthead publishing Joanna Norris says WTA is a natural fit in Stuff’s strong regional network.

“We love being able to support local journalism in Wairarapa with this acquisition and retain a strong commercial presence with the ability to deliver wider reach through our rural and real estate products.”

Denholm, alongside Norris and Stuff commercial leader Matt Headland, told his team of the sale at a meeting yesterday. Stuff leaders will be in Masterton over the next few weeks, working on transition plans with Denholm, including the future shape of the business and new ways of working. In his new role, Denholm will continue to drive WTA’s commercial strategy and success.

Denholm told staff that all roles will be reviewed in the process and that he will lead consultation on any changes required.

Stuff is the largest employer of journalists in New Zealand and recently won a bid to deliver a new 6pm news bulletin for Warner Bros. Discovery, owner of TV and streaming platform Three and ThreeNow. All of Stuff’s newsrooms will be contributing to the new 6pm bulletin.

“Selling WTA wasn’t an easy decision,” says Denholm, “but I know I’ve found the right partner in Stuff. This news is good for our region and our community. Change is often hard, but not changing is not an option in business today.”

Times-Age subscribers will continue to receive their copy of the newspaper as normal and non-subscribers can continue to pick up their copy at retail outlets across the region.

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