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The New Zealand Woman

Claire Rorke in New Zealand Woman’s Weekly

‘In conjunction with New Zealand Woman’s Weekly’s recent 80th birthday, social historian Bee Dawson has compiled this stunning commemorative book, celebrating “80 glorious years of fashion, food and friendship” from the pages of the magazine. The New Zealand Woman is chock-full of stories from our archives, each shedding new light on the good old days – and some of the bad – of life as a Kiwi woman.


With 11 themed chapters – covering subjects as diverse as housework, agony aunts, fabulous fashion, royalty and the eternal quest for the perfect body – the book unveils some real Weekly gems. Who knew, for example, in lieu of a fridge, the best way for a New Zealand housewife to keep meat fresh in 1932 was to “hang joints from the ceiling or shelf… covered with a piece of muslin”. Or, that in the absence of strawberries, a combination of tomatoes, sugar and strawberry essence can make the perfect mock strawberry jam – a recession- and Depression-proof spread.

The New Zealand Woman matches the journey of Kiwi women with that of the Weekly – just as New Zealand women’s lives have changed dramatically during the past 80 years, so has this magazine. However, the book also features recipes for numerous old-fashioned favourites, such as cinnamon sponge square, chocolate bread pudding and even home brew, which wouldn’t look out of place in Kiwi kitchens today.

While it might seem predictable that we’re singing the praises of a book that pays homage to our very own magazine, the real stars of this book are New Zealand women – our readers and the women who feature in the magazine every week. It is a testament to their strength.’

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