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Kowhai Media relaunches Mana magazine, aims to capture digital eyes

Mana Magazine, which has been in circulation since 1993, will from issue 118 be re-launched by Kowhai Media, the current publisher of New Zealand Geographic.

Until now, the bi-monthly magazine has been published by Mana Productions, a company owned and operated by Derek Fox and, according to a release on the Mana website, this move will see Fox’s responsibilities limited to only providing editorial contributions. 

When the magazine reached its 100th issue in 2011, Fox already hinted to TVNZ’s Māori news channel Te Karere that it was proving financially challenging to keep the publication afloat, and this could be seen as one of the principal reasons for the change. 

In his editorial in the 117th issue, Fox announced that his team was looking at alternative solutions to keep the publication going in the digital age. This, as it has now been revealed, would be Fox’s last editorial for the magazine as control of the publication was handed over to Kowhai Media. 

“Derek is an important figure to both the magazine and broadcasting as a whole,” says Kowhai Media director James Frankham. “We hope to continue to work he has done over the past 22 years and maintain a strong Maori voice in mainstream media.”

Although Fox has already left his post as the editor of the magazine, he will still be contributing a column to the next issue, which will be released on 28 July. 

“We hope that his column will be an ongoing regular in the magazine,” says Frankham.

Incoming editor Leonie Hayden (Ngati Whatua o Kaipara), who previously edited Rip it Up and The Groove Guide, called the opportunity to work for Mana a “dream gig” and said that she did not believe the publication had fallen on hard times. 

“I don’t think the magazine’s challenges are any different from those that other publications face in the digital age,” she says. “I think one of the things that made me decide to join the magazine was the fact that both James and Marc [directors at Kowhai Media]told me that they have young families and they they couldn’t afford to gamble with a struggling publication. Their confidence made me feel certain I was making the right decision. I would not have taken this job if I thought Mana was in trouble.”

While both Hayden and Frankham are optimistic about the future of the magazine, Kowhai Media has already introduced a wide range of changes to the publication.

In addition to updating the look of the print and web versions of the magazine, Kowhai has also announced that it intends to release iPhone and Android apps for readers soon. 

“With the new format comes new opportunities for advertisers to engage a Māori audience in new ways, wherever they are,” said a release from Kowhai Media. [And] for the first time there are also content placement opportunities for advertisers and institutions with a story to tell. Like display advertising, these advertorial opportunities are also placed on the re-developed Mana website and across a forthcoming smartphone app for both iPhones and Android phones, to reach an entirely new market of young, connected Māori.” 

According to Nielsen statistics, the magazine’s readership sits at approximately 100,000, half which read every issue. And Frankham says that he hopes the digital additions help to increase these numbers further.  

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