Last issue of iconic NZ Tablet published

Nearly 150 years after its first issue, the NZ Tablet has published its last one.

Bishop Patrick Moran founded the magazine in Dunedin in 1873 with the immigrant Irish Catholic population in mind.

Moran was noted as a strong-minded and literate speaker and the paper gave him the opportunity to voice his views on religion, the church, and politics – especially the latter.

He was also noted for his opposition to the secularisation of education (a New Zealand government policy) and was strongly vocal on the issue of Irish nationalism.

He used the publication as a pulpit from which to write on both subjects until his death in 1895.

Although the editor who succeeded him – Henry Cleary – adopted a more gentle approach to politics, James Kelly, editor from 1917 to 1931, adopted a line closer to Moran’s — so much so that Cleary founded ‘The Month’, an opposition Catholic journal.

Kelly’s editorship raised hackles with its pro-Irish republican leanings and he was eventually forced to resign.

After Kelly’s time the Tablet took a less outspoken approach.

It remained a political force, however, especially during John Kennedy’s editorship (1967-1989).

He was a close friend of then-Prime Minister Rob Muldoon and the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children president Des Dalgety, with all three sharing similar views on moral and social issues.

Kennedy adopted a pro-Muldoonist editorial standpoint favouring the National Party.

Muldoon contributed several articles.

During the 1980s, The Tablet had an adversarial relationship with the left-leaning Catholic Commission for Justice, Peace and Development.

One columnist, Bernard Moran, published an article in 1989 alleging the Philippines Solidarity Network had left-wing or pro-Communist leanings, which created controversy in NZ’s Catholic Church hierarchy.

The NZ Tablet remained in its original journal-style form until 1996. Declining readership saw the publication ‘lose’ its NZ prefix and morph into the Tablet newsletter for the Dunedin diocese.

Twenty-four years later, Bishop Michael Dooley announced the last issue – Number 247 – would be published in March 2021.

“During this year in the diocese, we have continued to investigate being more financially sustainable, while maintaining effective pastoral outreach to people.

“One of the issues raised in the area of communications has been the future of this publication, the Tablet,” he says.

A smaller digital diocesan newsletter provides a continued communication channel to the parishes and schools.

As not everyone has access to online publications, printed copies of the newsletter will be available in parishes.

Dooley is grateful to the Tablet’s last editor, Tony Hanning, “for his great contribution” and to the publication’s loyal advertisers.

“It is difficult to cease a publication that has been part of our lives in the diocese for a long time, but I hope we will go on to develop further forms of communication in a financially sustainable way, and, most importantly, to the glory of God.”


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News category: New Zealand.

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