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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 9 (December 1, 1938)

The Growth Of The N.Z. Railways Magazine

page 72

The Growth Of The N.Z. Railways Magazine

(Continued from page 13.)

verse writer than to essay this page. Criticism will be firm, but generous, friendly, but well-founded.

To revert to history, I cull for sampling, a fine tribute by the Minister of Railways at the time, to those heroes responsible for the forty-eight hours of dazzling deeds which repaired the destruction wrought by the Napier earthquake. By way of contrast, there is in 1930, the first cartoon I remember by Minhinnick.

Talking of growth, in 1934, was made the momentous change from crown to demy quarto. The smaller format had swollen to 64 pages, the new started again at 48, soon rose again to 64. Now and again there was an 80-page issue, the 1936 Christmas issue went to 88, and the special issue for the new Wellington Railway Station went 112. These two issues also entered the sacred precincts or the “drawn-on cover,” a bourne, to paraphrase Elia, “higher than which no publication can go.”

A colour supplement went with the Station issue, which was of world parity. In December, 1935, the first four-colour cover made its bow. It was a vivid picture of the Chateau Tongariro, and since then, it is not overmuch to claim that every cover has been an artistic gem. That magnificent work, “New Zealand Railways Illustrated,” is the eclectic gathering of these colour pictures. We have always had exquisite photography in New Zealand, but the covers have also utilised water colour paintings, notably the delightful work of Peter Bousfield.

I have already mentioned James Cowan as a regular contributor, but the magazine's list of writers of great attainments is a long one.

In the first Christmas number, 1926, Sir Robert Stout tells of his memories of the long ago; his journeys to the mining courts of Otago, his 1885 trip from Lake Taupo to Taumarunui, complete with cloud-bursts and other trials. It amounts to a vivid commentary on those who complain of transport difficulties to-day.

Professor T. A. Hunter, Professor Charles Chilton, Dr. E. P. Neale, A. C. Gifford, Miss Eileen Duggan, Miss Iris Wilkinson, Miss Margaret Macpherson, Winifred Tennant, and scores of others have filled the bright pages of “The Railways Magazine.” The ingeniously planned series, “The Thirteenth Clue,” followed by “Dream Places” had numbers by most of the practitioners of the written word in New Zealand. “The Thirteenth Clue” was a happy effort, for in spite of its riotous humour, steeped in local allusions, and a disposition of the various “literary gents” to score off each other under their thin disguises of character names, the Editor had anxious enquiries about missing instalments from the far places of the earth, including Barbadoes and U.S.A.

Fiction has had its place, and our own story-tellers have had liberal representation. No periodical published in New Zealand so much deserves the title “Made in New Zealand.”

I often wonder if the general reading public realise what is involved in “getting out” a magazine; the careful reading of all submitted contributions, pile upon pile of manuscripts; the selection of illustrations, poring over photographs and drawings, deciding on their size and position on the page; the teasing task of “boiling down” the captions to go under or over the illustration; the art of “make-up,” the dovetailing of letterpress and pictures;
(Thelma R. Kent, photo.) On the road to the Ball Hut, Mt. Cook, South Island.

(Thelma R. Kent, photo.)
On the road to the Ball Hut, Mt. Cook, South Island.

the choice of type; revising and reading proofs; the problem of fifty words too many or thirty too little to fit the column; consulting advertisers and dovetailing their announcements. All this is against time, for there is a publication date and the complex machinery of distribution demands that this must be adhered to exactly. It is as much a matter of timing as a Derby candidate going off at the barrier rise.

The issue in which this story appears, after all, is the best evidence of the place of honour and usefulness reached by the Magazine. From sport to cookery, verse to sporting notes, science to scenery, gravity to nonsense, book reviews to short story, all tastes are covered.

“The Railways Magazine,” in growing up, has changed. Like our Railways themselves, it has become an integral foundation member of New Zealand's temple of life.