Wellington Cosmo / Wellington City Magazine
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Introduction to the Collection
Wellington Cosmo and Wellington City Magazine offer a fascinating insight into Wellington's culture in the mid-1980s during a time a considerable societal and economic change. Its first edition was printed at the very end of Sir Robert Muldoon's final term as the National Government's Prime Minister in 1984. Following the subsequent change of government, for the next three years the magazine published an enormous variety of feature articles and regular columns while its advertising content reflected a boom in the local economy as financial regulatory controls were dropped, the share market rose to dizzying new heights and a new generation of high-earning workers, investors and entrepreneurs opened their wallets. The magazine was also highly innovative in its graphic design, page layout and high quality photograph reproduction.
It was produced by Multimedia Associates Ltd, a publishing company established and owned by the then-Wellington based entrepreneur Henry Newrick. Involved with publishing and advertising sales since working for Salient at Victoria University in the late 1960s, Newrick's first personal venture was to produce a travel guide for students in association with the NZ Students Association. Over the following 15 years he published several tourist guides to Wellington, founded the National Business Review and the NZ Art & Antiques Yearbook as well as establishing the Medici Art Gallery on The Terrace & The Inferno nightclub in the former Ascot Picture Theatre in Newtown at the height of the disco era.
Henry Newrick's decision to launch Wellington Cosmo in 1984 was in part inspired by the success of Metro which had begun in Auckland three years earlier but also by a new generation of similarly urban-focussed 'city magazines' that were appearing in major centres such as Los Angeles and London which were generating strong sales and advertising revenue. The name was chosen to reflect the fact that Wellington was seen as being a particularly 'cosmopolitan' city. Shortly after it launched, Newrick was served with an order by a Wellington law firm working on behalf of the U.S-based Hearst Corporation (publishers of Cosmopolitan magazine) who claimed that "Cosmo" violated their trademark and requesting the title be changed or legal action would be forthcoming. The request was refused and the resulting 'David & Goliath' battle in the courts received wide-spread media attention and gave the fledging magazine a considerable amount of free publicity. With the lower courts refusing to grant the injunction, Hearst appealed to the High Court. Sensing that with their deep pockets the American publishing behemoth was unlikely to back down, after five issues as Wellington Cosmo, Newrick changed the title to Wellington City Magazine. It remained as such until it shifted to a quarterly publication and was given a minor title variation to City Magazine for its last three issues.
Over the time it was published, the magazine had three editors; Lloyd Jones, John Saker and Malcolm McSporran. They were given a large amount of editorial freedom, contributed feature articles on whatever subjects took their interest and attracted many talented writers and journalists who often had significant literary, academic or business backgrounds. Henry Newrick left his editorial staff to 'get on with the job' and concentrated on selling advertising, relishing a role which is a vital but often unloved part of magazine publishing. The magazine also took on causes and was one of the first outlets to raise the profile of the St James Theatre when it was threatened with demolition.
Unfortunately, despite its editorial success and strong sales, the 'Black Monday' share market crash of October 1987 resulted in the near-complete collapse of advertising revenue and reluctantly, Henry Newrick decided to close the magazine after 27 issues with its final edition being published in the spring of 1987.
You can hear more about Henry Newrick's life as an entrepreneur and publisher in this oral history interview.
As the publisher of Wellington Cosmo / Wellington City Magazine, Henry Newrick continues to hold copyright to the output of staff employed by Multimedia Associates Ltd and he has generously allowed this digitisation to take place on a Creative Commons basis. However, as it is over three decades since the magazine was in print, the nature of the contracts signed between the company and freelance writers & columnists is uncertain and we are unable to ascertain whether copyright of commissioned work is held by the publisher or if it remained with the writer. A number of contributors we have been able to contact have all given permission to make their work available with this digitised version of the magazine. However, given the number of writers involved and the passage of time, it is not possible to locate and obtain consent from everyone. We hope that those involved understand that this digitisation has been carried out on a non-commercial basis to make copies of this now-rare historic publication more available.
By making these copies of Wellington Cosmo / Wellington City Magazine available online, Wellington City Libraries is not claiming copyright which remains either with the publisher, original contributors or their heirs. No material in this collection can be republished on a commercial basis without seeking permission of the copyright holder. Please include a full reference and author credit for any material which is used on a non-commercial basis, limit any re-use to a single article and do not alter / adapt any articles or photographs or use them to create 'derivatives'.
These magazines include multiple advertisements for tobacco products. They have been included in this digitisation to provide historic context and we do not condone cigarette smoking. The Smoke-free Environments Act 1990 banned the advertising of all tobacco products. However, the Act allows for the exhibition of historic 'artifacts' relating to cigarette advertising and their use in media as long as they were originally published before the 16th December 1990 and their appearance is incidental or minor. All of the cigarette advertisements appearing in this magazine were printed before the passing of legislation, they make up less than 1% of this collection's total content & appear on average less than once per issue.
Wellington City Libraries wishes to thank and acknowledge Henry Newrick, the publisher of Wellington Cosmo / Wellington City Magazine for granting us permission to digitise our collection of this serial.