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Kiwi icon turns 75

Published: 6:27PM Monday August 13, 2007 Source: ONE News

New Zealand's oldest magazine, The New Zealand Woman's Weekly, turns 75 this week.

The magazine has offered advice on everything from bleaching your hair to your toilet. But over the years it has had to get slicker and smarter in the face of stiff competition from rival publications.

"We are the only magazine to have survived 75 years of change in New Zealand and we have been published every week since 1932," says Sarah Sandley, The New Zealand Woman's Weekly's publisher.

The first edition spun onto the scene while Kiwis were in the midst of a depression.

At its peak in the early 1980s 250,000 million copies were sold. The current circulation is now around 99,000.

The magazine has tracked the trends and dished the dirt over the years, reporting on stars at their best and at their worst.

And printing photos of royals is like printing money in the magazine trade.

"They are amongst our best sellers and we are very confident that they will continue to be every time," says Sandley.

The New Zealand icon spent 50 years as the country's number one read, so Jenny Lynch, a former editor of the magazine says she finds it hard to understand how people can think the magazine is a "fussy mumsy sort of publication".

But new players on the market have clawed their way to the top, with the odd slanging match along the way.

"Their design is wrong the story content is very confusing," Wendyl Nissen, the former editor of Woman's Day was once quoted as saying of the Woman's Weekly.

The former editor of the Woman's Weekly, Sarah-Kate Lynch, hit back by saying, "I think it is rich coming from her because Woman's Day looks like a dog's breakfast half the time."

Research shows that Kiwis' appetite for the goss and fluff of the women's glossies have declined and it is the niche markets such as rugby and foodie magazines which are taking a chunk out of the readership.

And the key to survival in the fickle world of publishing appears to be knowing what to change and knowing what to keep.

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