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Big Success for Small Publisher

Big Success for Small Publisher

New Zealand Geographic, published by Kowhai Media, the country's smallest, newest publisher, has won the coveted title of Best Newsstand Magazine at the Canon Media Awards.

The bi-monthly magazine has celebrated our society and environment for 24 years under a number of independent publishers. However last year it was acquired by the incumbent editor and art director in an 'inside-job' that surprised an industry largely consolidating under foreign-owned corporations. Just over a year later New Zealand Geographic has taken out a top magazine award.

Marc Backwell, art director and co-publisher of New Zealand Geographic, says he is thrilled that the magazine has received such a prominent accolade. "As a small family-owned publisher, we have always had more enthusiasm than money," he says. "This result is a testament to a lot of hard work by a lot of committed people."

"New Zealand Geographic is produced by four people in a sub-let office in Takapuna," says editor James Frankham. "We couldn't have achieved this without an army of the finest journalists and photographers working at the top of their game. They work in the field for months to produce a single feature and this accolade is a tribute to their talent, persistence and dedication to telling the New Zealand story for the benefit of all of us."

New Zealand Geographic has risen in prominence in recent years by focusing on long-form articles with extensive photographic coverage even as other outlets tend toward shorter form stories and compact formats. Recently the magazine ran a 13,000-word story over nearly 40 pages on the journey for the Tuhoe people toward self-determination; a feature that may be considered of niche interest. Yet the issue chalked up the magazine's best sales in more than five years.

"It was an important story that reflected substantial changes in New Zealand society," says Frankham. "We thought it needed to be told in a way that did justice to a 118-year struggle that has in some ways defined the relationship between Maori and Pakeha."

The annual New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year competition attracted more than 200,000 visitors to an exhibition at Auckland Museum last year, extending the magazine's influence and that of its advertisers well beyond the printed page. With high-quality books, new magazine titles in development and burgeoning digital offerings, Kowhai Media appears to be going from strength to strength in what is a challenging environment for traditional publishing. Says Frankham, "It seems the death of print is working out pretty well for us."

New Zealand Geographic magazine is the journal of record for New Zealand; celebrating its people, places and wildlife. The magazine has built a strong reputation over the past 24 years for lavish photography, showcasing the extraordinary natural and cultural riches that make New Zealand unique.


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