Article appeared in the March Edition of the NZ Printer Magazine about our book: Takeaway – The Sale of the Government Printing Office.

The aftermath following the sale of this New Zealand Crown asset in the early 1990s saw a Commission of Inquiry conducted due to the poorly conceived sale process. The inquiry found poor judgement on the part of the Labour Government Ministers of the day, incompetence from the departments and consultants that were responsible that resulted in massive costs being incurred from a process that was drawn out over two years.

Takeaway – The Sale of the Government Printing Office revisits the GPO in the 1980s and examines what went wrong that led to a profitable printing, publishing and stationery business being sold for much less than it was worth.


This year marks 30 years since the sale of the New Zealand Government Printing Office. It also marks the end of another era of printing in Masterton, with a proposal made this week to axe 44 jobs at what is now Webstar, Masterton.

Following the sale of the GPO to Graeme Hart’s Rank Group in 1990 the Masterton factory survived intact for a further five years before the business was sold to Blue Star. The follow-on from that was the closure of the sheetfed printing factory which left only the web offset printing plant in the Wairarapa which was renamed Webstar.

Takeaway – the Sale of the Government Printing Office looks at the Masterton printing facility prior to the sale that not only produced general printing, forms and stationery but also produced over three million phone books per year.

At the time the annual sales revenue from this business alone was more than the Crown received from the sale process.

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