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The Railways Magazine

The New Zealand Railways Magazine was the official publicity outlet of the New Zealand Government Railways Department. Published between May 1926 and June 1940, its print span covered the economic expansion of the late 1920s, the Great Depression, and the years leading up to the outbreak of the Second World War. The Magazine was the brainchild of Prime Minister Joseph Gordon Coates, who saw it as a way of improving industrial relations within the Railways, and disseminating 'useful knowledge' to railway workers, their families, and the public at large. As Coates put it in his address 'To the Staff of the Railways' in the first issue of the magazine: The object of the Magazine should be to bring more interest into Railway life; to expand its possibilities not only for personal profit but for public appreciation; to help towards conditions which make for satisfaction in all ranks within the Department, by reciprocal and mutual service, benefiting each other by the improvement of the conditions of service for all

Later issues broadened the Magazine's horizons. Wellington journalist Pat Lawlor was engaged to write a regular literary column, 'Among the Books', and, from 1927, the magazine included a women's page, entitled 'Of Feminine Interest'. As time went by, the Railways Magazine evolved into a general interest publication, with articles on tourism, literature, local and British history, and Maori mythology, as well as short stories and reader-contributed poetry. By 1940, when war-time paper shortages forced it to cease publication, the Magazine had published work by some of the most prominent New Zealand writers of the day, including Robin Hyde, James Cowan, Alan Mulgan, and Denis Glover.

The New Zealand Electronic Text Collection, in partnership with Wellington City Libraries and the Alexander Turnbull Library, now presents a full-text, freely accessible edition of the New Zealand Railways Magazine, 1926–1940. There is also a brief introductory extract from Neill Atkinson's Trainland (2007), reproduced by permission of the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. The publication will appeal to railway enthusiasts, as well as anyone interested in social and women's history, design, advertising, and the shape of New Zealand's pre-war literary culture.