Story: Magazines and periodicals

Page 5. Specialist and lifestyle magazines: 1890s to 2010s

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Special interest magazines

Periodicals representing or serving community or special interest groups had existed since the colonial period. These included journals like the Women’s Christian Temperance Union’s monthly White Ribbon (1895–1960) and New Zealand Building Progress (1905–24), the latter with the tag line ‘For Those Interested in the Development of Building in Our Own Country.’ The number of such publications increased during the 20th century and included:

  • Forest and Bird (1923–, originally titled Birds). The quarterly magazine of the environmental group New Zealand Native Bird Protection Society, later Forest and Bird.
  • Home and Building (1937–75). Produced under the auspices of the New Zealand Institute of Architects, this monthly carried the work of local architects to a general audience.
  • New Zealand Gardener (1944–). The monthly magazine’s initial aim was to teach the public how to ‘dig for victory’ during wartime.
  • New Zealand Sportsman (1946–60). A monthly magazine created to meet New Zealanders’ wide interest in sport and sporting personalities. Another popular title was All Sports Monthly (1949–79), renamed Sports Digest in 1963.
  • New Zealand Farmer (1946–2001). This weekly was typical of myriad trade and professional magazines.

Promoting mediocrity

In the late 1940s many young architects thought Home and Building promoted mediocrity. In 1947 the iconoclast Bill Wilson outlined a four-step strategy for architectural success: firstly, find out what the client wants; secondly, give it to him; thirdly, sprinkle delicately with ‘good taste’; and fourthly, submit to Home and Building.

Student magazines

From the 1920s student associations at a number of university colleges began publishing weekly magazines during semester time. These provided news and information for students as well as opinion pieces and commentary, often of a political and satirical nature. Many writers and editors of student magazines, such as Geoffrey Palmer (a Salient editor in 1963), went on to careers in journalism or politics. The main student magazines were:

  • Critic (1925–), Otago University
  • Craccum (1927–), Auckland University
  • Canta (1933–), Canterbury University
  • Chaff (1934–2011), Massey University – replaced by Massive in 2012
  • Salient (1938–), Victoria University of Wellington
  • Nexus (1968–), Waikato University.

Going too far?

Many student newspaper editors saw it as their role to test social conventions and defend freedom of expression. In March 2000 Craccum published an article entitled ‘Suicide and how to do it’; in 2009 Salient published ‘How to rip off WINZ’ (the government social-welfare agency). Both articles caused a storm of protest both on and off campus, leading to apologies from editors.

Magazines of identity

The second half of the 20th century saw the emergence of magazines and periodicals that spoke to the identity politics of groups including Māori, women, and lesbians and gay men. Among them were:

  • Te Ao Hou (1952–75). Published by the Maori Affairs Department, the quarterly examined diverse aspects of Māori life. Contributors included emerging Māori writers like J. C. Sturm, Witi Ihimaera and Patricia Grace.
  • Eve (1966–75). In the tradition of Woman To-day, the monthly focused on social issues such as thalidomide babies, drug addiction and difficult daughters.
  • Thursday (1968–76). The weekly dealt with similar issues to Eve, but had a strong focus on the arts.
  • Broadsheet (1972–97). The monthly feminist magazine was a forum where women discussed a diverse range of issues, including politics, sexuality, crime and the arts.
  • Out (1977–2009). This bi-monthly lifestyle magazine covered issues of interest to gay men.
  • Mana (1993–2017). This pan-tribal monthly magazine examined contemporary Māori life, including politics, business, sport, the arts and literature. It stressed Māori success stories in these areas.

Sexy guy?

In 1971 Eve magazine carried out a survey to find the New Zealand politician with the most sex appeal. The cherubic Robert Muldoon won.

Lifestyle and current affairs magazines

The late 1970s and 1980s saw the emergence of new magazines such as monthlies Metro (1981–) and North and South (1986–). Metro was a self-styled ‘city magazine’ aimed at urbane Aucklanders. Its famous 1987 cover story about unorthodox research on women at Greenlane Hospital – ‘The unfortunate experiment’ – led to a judicial enquiry and law changes.

North and South was a regional version of Metro ‘without the hard-edged, rapacious bastards, glass towers, Jafa image’.1 In the 1980s Wellington launched its own city magazines, including Wellington Cosmo and W5, but both proved uneconomic and were short-lived. They did not have a replacement until the launch of Capital magazine in 2013.

A number of national titles aimed at women appeared from the early 1980s, including More (1983–1996) which had a readership of around 60,000 in the mid-1980s. It aimed for a different market than popular magazines such as the Woman’s Weekly, and ran national Businesswoman of the Year awards as well as stories on drug abuse, AIDS and infertility. More was followed by Next (1991–2020) and Grace (1999–2001).

Other specialist and lifestyle magazines include:

  • Rip It Up (1977–2015). The monthly music magazine carried local news, reviews and events. It was pivotal in promoting and popularising New Zealand music from the 1980s.
  • Cuisine (1987–). Comprising articles and reviews about food, wine and restaurants and cafés, the monthly catered to a growing middle-class enthusiasm for gastronomy.
  • Pavement (1993–2007). The youth-focused quarterly examined overseas and local popular culture – music, fashion and celebrities.
  • Spasifik (2004–). A bi-monthly magazine covering issues of interest to Pacific and Māori communities.
  • Mindfood (2008–). The lifestyle monthly concentrated on fashion, food, health and wellbeing.
  1. Jenny Chamberlain, ‘Magazine alchemy’, North and South, March 2011, p. 39. Back
How to cite this page:

Ben Schrader, 'Magazines and periodicals - Specialist and lifestyle magazines: 1890s to 2010s', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 16 July 2024)

Story by Ben Schrader, published 22 Oct 2014, updated 1 Apr 2020