Lizard News is a local, family-owned monthly community newspaper run by Matthew and Liz Farrell from Ōmokoroa. It is delivered for free to nearly 11,000 mailboxes from the city boundary at Bethlehem to Waihī Beach. Additional copies are dropped at petrol stations, cafes, waiting rooms and other locations across the coverage area.
The first edition was printed in June 2017 with 4,200 copies of a 24-page publication featuring news and advertising from Te Puna to Aongatete. Since then, production has increased to 11,500 copies, varying in size from 32 to 48 pages, depending on the amount of advertising booked by Western Bay businesses, with news coverage and mailbox delivery extending to Katikati and Waihī Beach since April 2019.
Graphics production is contracted to Creative By Design in Matamata, with Beacon Print in Whakatāne, NDL Transport, Shotbro web design and a range of delivery personnel as part of the team. Audrey Dubois has worked as an advertising contractor for Lizard News since March 2019.
Copies are handled by Rural Delivery drivers across the district, seven people in Ōmokoroa, five in Waihī Beach, and a group of IHC adults and their careers in Katikati. It is also available on the Issuu and Pressreader online platforms.
Matthew’s news background has included Sky News and talkSPORT radio in London, as well as Radio Pacific and Radio Live in Auckland, and Radio New Zealand National, for whom he was the Bay of Plenty regional correspondent. He also had a stint as the editor of the Matamata Chronicle. Matthew won National Individual Journalist of the Year at the 2008 NZ Radio Awards. Liz also has a background in publishing, having produced the LEGO Club magazine in Europe, with a distribution of 250,000 in the UK and 35,000 in France and co-production of the 350,000-strong German edition.
Matthew and Liz moved to New Zealand in March 2004, working to residency before moving to the Western Bay in 2007. After short stints in Bethlehem, rural Pyes Pā, and Katikati, they settled in Ōmokoroa – where Liz’s parents had also moved in 2007.
Matthew has volunteered locally in mental health peer support, as a maths catch-up tutor at OPS, and as a committee member for the Ōmokoroa Boat Club, Tauranga Archers, and charitable fundraising motorcycle activities for the Ulysses Club.
Liz has worked at the library in Ōmokoroa since May 2011, with volunteer stints in the Board of Trustees at Ōmokoroa Point School and on the Settlers’ Hall committee. She was one of three people who organised Ōmokoroa’s Anzac services from 2015 to 2021.
Their children Patrick, Jack and Georgie have all gone through Ōmokoroa Point School and on to Ōtūmoetai College. Their nephew Callum joined the family in August.
Lizard News has a print run of 11,500 including mailbox deliveries from the Wairoa River at Bethlehem to Waihī Beach, through the rural & urban areas of the west of the Western Bay of Plenty District; Te Puna, Whakamārama, Matakana Is, Ōmokoroa, Pahoia, Apata, Aongatete, Katikati, Tahāwai, Bowentown and Athenree. For more information, visit the website.