Hard News by Russell Brown


New Mana

For 22 years, Mana magazine has told Māori stories and celebrated Maori heroes. But when Mana celebrated its 100th issue in 2011, there was a hint in the note from founding editor Derek Fox that he wasn't sure where where it could go or how long it could sustain itself in an increasingly difficult print market. In April of this year, Fox called time: it was "no longer prudent" to continue publishing and time for a rethink. It might have been the end.

But last week, Mana came back: redesigned, revived, renewed. Fox, who isn't getting any younger, has licensed the title to Kowhai Media, publishers of New Zealand Geographic, with Leonie Hayden in the editor's chair.

People in the music business will know Leonie as the bright, hard-working editor of Rip It Up (where she brought new life to another venerable title) and Groove Guide in recent years, and she brings quite a bit of her music heritage to her role at Mana.

It's hard to imagine Fox going with Aaron Moffitt's great pic of American rapper ScHoolboy Q playing in Auckland in June, or with Jessica Hansell's profile of Maori punk rocker and zine publisher Sarsha-Leigh Douglas, but they both work in the context of the magazine. 

One of the challenges for Māori media ventures is the need to serve demographically diverse audiences, united only their Māoriness, and it will be interesting to see whether Mana can bring in younger readers without alienating the older long-term readership.

I'll be talking to Leonie on Media Take this week. In the meantime, you can check out the new Mana website and mobile apps.


There was another media unveiling last week: Telecom lifted the covers a little on its Lightbox subscriber-video-on-demand venture, which will open for business at the end of the month, charging $15 a month. That news prompted Sky -- which has a good deal of the kind of content Lightbox offers locked up in its premium Soho channel -- to reiterate its own SVOD plans. Quickflix, which probably doesn't have the budget for the kind of TV drama Lightbox and Sky will offer, is already in the market. And rumours persist that Netflix itself will eventually open up in New Zealand.

But only a minority of viewers even know how connect their TVs to the internet. How big is the market these services are chasing? I'm joined on this week's show by Rod Snodgrass, head of Telecom Digital Ventures, the unit that is launching Telecom into television with Lightbox and has various other ideas in the pipeline.

I've also been having a play with the Lightbox beta, via its iPad-only iOS app (Lightbox will also be available on Windows and Mac OS, more devices to come by the end of the year). The app is is well-designed and notably snappy and the content is being delivered by Akamai, but I've been having some trouble watching videos via AirPlay to my Apple TV. I'll have to see if I can fix that.

Also on this week's show, Toi looks at the three-yearly crop of election hoardings, what they signify and what's being done to them.

That's all on Media Take on Maori Television at 10.10pm tomorrow night (right after Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer). But you're most welcome to join us for this evening's recording. Just come to the Victoria Street entrance of TVNZ at 5.45pm today.

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