125th anniversary of Suffrage in New Zealand

First issue of New Zealand Woman's Weekly

8 December 1932

The cover of the first issue of the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly (Te Ara)

On 8 December 1932, 7000 copies of the first issue of the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly went on sale. The magazine hoped to offer ‘usefulness, cheerfulness and happiness’ to readers during the depths of the Depression. The Woman’s Weekly Publishing Company, owned by Otto Williams (editor of The Mirror) and Audrey Argall (a freelance writer who also ran a nursing home) was based in the Mutual Life building in Queen St, Auckland. The articles were written by Argall (the editor) and various friends of hers.

The first issue boasted a purple and white cover and had many elements that would become staples of the publication: advice on cooking and housework, romantic short stories, knitting patterns and feature articles. But, despite an encouraging start, the Woman’s Weekly Publishing Company ran out of money after only three months.

Veteran Auckland city councillor Ellen Melville saved the magazine. She sold it after a few months to solicitor Vernon Dyson, who owned it for a year before also selling it. Dyson installed his wife Hedda, an experienced Dutch journalist, as editor, a position she retained until 1948.

The New Zealand Woman’s Weekly continues to be one of New Zealand’s most popular magazines despite its then German owner, Bauer Media (now Are Media),  stopping publishing its New Zealand titles for several months in 2020.

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Sitara Morgenster

Posted: 05 Feb 2021