Kōrero: Magazines and periodicals

Whārangi 3. Popular magazines, 1920 to 1939

Ngā whakaahua me ngā rauemi katoa o tēnei kōrero


Beginning as an Australian soldiers’ magazine in France during the First World War, the monthly Aussie published a New Zealand supplement from 1923 to 1932, edited by journalist Pat Lawlor. Comprising largely cartoons and humorous stories – based on racial or cultural stereotypes – it also included verse and prose from writers like Robin Hyde and A. R. D. Fairburn.

Rejecting Frank Sargeson

In 1933 a young Frank Sargeson submitted a story, ‘Mamie’s urge’, to the Mirror. In rejecting the story, the magazine called it ‘[v]ery fair. Marred by an overdose of up-to-date slang. Make your dialogue more convincing.’1 Sargeson went on to become a successful writer whose stories were acclaimed for their distinctive vernacular language and dialogue.

The Mirror

Established in 1922, the monthly Mirror followed the New Zealand Graphic and Ladies’ Journal (published from 1890 to 1908) as a periodical aimed at middle-class women. Its content was royal tours, society weddings and young Māori women; overt political comment was avoided. The Mirror’s literary standards were deeply conservative. It carried genre fiction – courtship, romance, adventure and mystery – from popular writers like Dorothy Eden and Essie Summers. By the early 1960s the Mirror had lost ground to other magazines. It folded in 1963.

New Zealand Woman’s Weekly

The first issue of the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly came out in December 1932 and by the end of 1934 it had a circulation of 22,500. The magazine’s focus on domesticity, the royal family and celebrity culture found a strong readership. Its ability to remain contemporary and reflect the changing roles of women helped explain its longevity. 

New Zealand Railways Magazine

Following in the wake of the Union Steam Ship Company’s travel magazine The Red Funnel (1905–9), the popular monthly New Zealand Railways Magazine was published by the Railways Department from 1926. Its literary editor was Pat Lawlor, who took a conservative approach, promoting New Zealand content and avoiding political protest. Contributors included writers and poets James Cowan, G. G. Stewart, Robin Hyde, Denis Glover and Eva Langby. The magazine closed in 1940 as a war measure.

New Zealand Listener

Founded by the government in 1939 to publicise radio listings, the weekly New Zealand Listener extended its brief to cover current affairs, opinion and the arts. Its early editors, Oliver Duff and Monte Holcroft, established a tradition of supporting literary talent. Among the writers featured in its pages were Maurice Duggan, Noel Hilliard, Keith Sinclair, Janet Frame, Maurice Shadbolt, Fiona Kidman and Joy Cowley; poets included James K. Baxter, Allen Curnow, Ruth Gilbert and Ruth France. Circulation peaked in 1982 at 375,885, falling thereafter due to the loss of the magazine’s television listings monopoly. In 1990 the Listener was privatised. By the 2010s it had become more a lifestyle magazine, but remained committed to art and literary criticism. 

Kupu tāpiri
  1. Mirror 12, no. 2 (August 1933), p. 41. Back
Me pēnei te tohu i te whārangi:

Ben Schrader, 'Magazines and periodicals - Popular magazines, 1920 to 1939', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/mi/magazines-and-periodicals/page-3 (accessed 22 July 2024)

He kōrero nā Ben Schrader, i tāngia i te 22 Oct 2014, updated 1 Apr 2020