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Ngaio and Khandallah Review / The Social Review
Wellington City Libraries wishes to thank and acknowledge the Onslow Historical Society for making their collection of these rare magazines available to us and allowing them to be digitised on Wellington City Recollect. The original copies from which these scans were taken are available to view at the society's clubrooms located in the historic former Khandallah Automatic Telephone Exchange building. Click here for further information. Note that a small number of copies are missing ; please contact us if you hold any of the following issues and would allow us to scan them for this collection; The Social Review, Vol 1, Numbers 5 to 8 & Number 10.
The Ngaio and Khandallah Review offers a fascinating insight into Wellington society in the early-mid 1930s. The magazine was founded by the journalist Kenneth McLennan in December 1932 and was a remarkable undertaking for the time as it was published during the depths of the Great Depression. Printed to a high standard and lavishly illustrated, there were few (if any) such magazines published elsewhere in New Zealand which focussed on a local community in such a manner. After one year the magazine changed its title to The Social Review, increasing its size and scope in an effort to attract new readers beyond the traditional boundaries of the Onslow area. Kenneth McLennan not only published and edited the magazine, it is likely he also wrote a considerable portion of its content and his daughter Flora also regularly contributed.
Little is known about McLennan or what motivated him to publish the magazine. He and his family lived in Amritsar Street in Khandallah though they were likely to have originally come from Dunedin. He had a keen interest in politics and stood unsuccessfully in the Wellington Suburbs electorate (of which the Onslow area was a part) in the 1928 and 1931 general elections. He represented the United Party; an off-shoot of the Liberal Party which later was to merge with the Reform Party in 1936 to form the National Party. Though the magazine wasn't overtly political, some of the views of the publisher do come through to print with the magazine being economically nationalistic and unashamedly middle-class. Readers are encouraged to buy NZ made products over imported items whenever possible to support local industry, and in one issue, the writer of the children's page, explains that "you in time are going to be doctors, parliamentarians, bankers, barristers and merchants - in fact all those positions which your fathers are today". Support was given to the New Zealand Legion; a loosely organised political group which proposed a more conservative solution to the economic problems associated with the Great Depression compared to the 'radical' alternative being promoted by the Labour Party and it is possible that McLennan was allied to the movement.
However, a large part of each issue was simply made up of reports covering the social activity of the community. Weddings and engagements, sporting fixtures, latest fashions, household tips, photographs of new houses and garden parties all feature prominently. However, the magazine did not shy away from dealing with difficult social issues, (particularly those affecting women) and these were discussed (often with considerable sensitivity) in a selection of 'problem' pages.
Priced at a very reasonable 6d (increasing to 9d when it became the Social Review; approximately $3.30 and $4.70 respectively in 2021 terms), the magazine was also supported by extensive advertising by local Wellington firms. The magazine ceased publication in early 1935; the reason is unknown but it is possible that the state of the health of his wife Annie Grant McLennan (nee Smith) may have had some bearing on McLennan's decision and Annie passed away in Dunedin in June 1936 aged 47. He continued living in Amritsar Street until the late 1940s but towards the end of his life he moved to Mosgeil, west of Dunedin where he died in April 1954 at the age of 73, survived by his second wife Sophia Maud McLennan (nee Owens).
You are welcome to reproduce pages from the magazine in print or on-line but please include a full reference and a link back to the original source.