Marton has long been well-served by locally produced newspapers. The site now occupied by Marton’s print and copy shop was in the late 1800’s occupied by a wooden building purpose built to house the Rangitikei Advocate and Manawatu Argus – a daily paper with distribution north of Hunterville and south to Foxton.
Disagreements with editorial comment were at times punctuated by the extreme method of setting fire to the newspapers’ home, with at least three major fires resulting.
The building is now basically in the same format that it was finally rebuilt for the Rangitikei Advocate, with office space on the street frontage, and a machine room to the rear. The compositors or typesetters occupied the middle portion of the building. The Rangitikei Advocate ceased publication finally during the early stages of the Second World War, presumably as a result of shortages of both newsprint and manpower. It was then stripped of all its newspaper and commercial printing equipment; virtually everything had gone by the time Raymond Buckendahl was first shown the premises in 1945. By then a cabinetmaker, Mr Dekkie, was established in the back part of the building and the front offices were initially occupied by a bootmaker and a hairdresser. The building was then owned by Mr Colin Fenwicke, who was the secretary of the local catchment board. By the early 1950’s both the bootmaker and hairdresser had moved on, and Rangitikei Catchment Board occupied all of the front portion of the premises until moving to their new building in Hair Street.
Raymond Buckendahl, who was born in Wanganui, served an apprenticeship with the Wanganui Herald as a compositor. Returning home after three years in the Middle East with the 2nd NZEF, WWII, he came to Marton and rented the centre part of the Advocate Building and setup business as a commercial printer using second-hand equipment, bought mostly in Wanganui. He was obviously a competent tradesman; the business he started from scratch in 1946 ultimately employed eight skilled staff, occupying the entire Advocate Building with nothing to spare. Clients in 1946 included Nga Tawa School, Marton Borough Council, The Ruapehu Lodge No. 128, The Marton Sash, Door & Timber Co, Glasgow Electrical and Marton District High.
In 1947 Beryl McNeill (nee Close, daughter of Marton’s Borough Works Overseer) joined Marton Printery as a bindery assistant, finally retiring in 1968. Lucretia Earnshaw (nee Galpin, daughter of Phil and Gail, Tutaenui) took up the position of trainee keyboard operator in 1985, coinciding with the installation of the company’s first computer-driven typesetter and is still with the firm as office manager. Today, some 70 years after the establishment of the business, less than 5% of the business is letterpress, 40% is offset and 55% is digital. Staff numbers are half what they were ten years ago; output has increased.
The business has passed from one generation to another, from Ray and Terry Buckendahl to their son Alan and his wife Dale who now own the business. Their younger son, Mike, is a qualified printing tradesman. He gained his initial training at Marton Printery before working in Palmerston North and Auckland. He has now returned to Palmerston North, working at Firecrest Systems as a Client Manager.
Extensive use is made of the online facilities available to Marton Print through its franchised connection with printing.com in Grenada North.