Connecting, Empowering and Inspiring Women Across New Zealand

In a world that is increasingly digital, it’s rare that a new magazine launches. We spent five minutes catching up with Shepherdess Magazine founder and editor Kristy McGregor, about where the idea came from and the journey to date.

What is Shepherdess?

Shepherdess is a new quarterly magazine for women in rural New Zealand. It is about connecting, empowering and inspiring women across New Zealand, by offering a place to tell the people of our rural community’s stories. It is a place to share stories of resourcefulness, entrepreneurship and courage.

Where did the idea come from?

I’ve always been passionate about creating vibrant and thriving rural communities. When I lived in far western Queensland, before moving to New Zealand, I started an event called the Channel Country Ladies Day with a group of women. It’s still going strong, now eight years on, and brings together women from the most remote corners of three states together for a weekend of laughs, connection, comradery and burlesque. It’s a lot of fun, but it also has – as we discovered – an important place in the lives of many women for its impact on their social and emotional wellbeing, in what is a very geographically isolated region.

When I moved to New Zealand, I realised that there is this very strong agricultural industry, but a lot of the conversation was about cows and grass. Communities are closer together here than in Australia, but that doesn’t always mean they are better connected. There’s also so many wonderful things going on already in rural communities, but they aren’t widely talked about; they’re almost hidden. You have to know where to find them.

When I moved to New Zealand, I realised that there is this very strong agricultural industry, but a lot of the conversation was about cows and grass. Communities are closer together, but that doesn’t always mean they are better connected. There’s also so many wonderful things going on already in rural communities, but they aren’t widely talked about; they’re almost hidden. You have to know where to find them.

At the same time I met Claire Dunne, the founder and editor of Australian magazine Graziher. Claire has really paved the way in Australia for telling the stories of women in the bush. After a little while of toying with the idea, she messaged me just after the Christmas before last saying ‘how about it?’. At that point I had a newborn baby, was studying for my Masters, was about to return to work, and life was full. I don’t believe there’s such thing as waiting for the right time though – you’ve just got to seize the moment as it comes and with that, we thrust into creating a magazine. Claire’s been on the end of the phone ever since and I am very grateful to her for her support and wisdom throughout.

When print is going out of fashion, why a magazine?

There’s something special about picking up a magazine and holding it in your hands! It’s so much more of an experience than the inundation of material we’re privy to through digital channels. Receiving a magazine that you treasure in your letterbox is a real treat, and it’s a fond memory I have from growing up. It feels like a lot has fallen into place – now there’s a reason why I’ve kept so many magazines on my bookshelf for all these years! They’ve also become good reference points over the last few months.

Where is the magazine available?

The first edition is with the printer as we speak, and it will be available from mid-March. It will be available online via subscription and at selected Farmlands stores nationally. You can also find it at a couple of Manawatū favourites, including Marton’s Moomaa Café & Design Store, and Tonic & Cloth in George Street, Palmerston North.

Can we have a sneak peek of the first edition?

We’ve trekked from Northland to the Mackenzie Country, and there’s so many beautiful stories, it’s hard to know where to start! We’ve got a story on a wahine, mother and farmer from Northland, Chevon Horsford, who is doing beautiful work supporting her whanau and their aspirations for their land. We talk with two families who have diversified their farming businesses by adding glamping accommodation. We met a pioneer in the seafood industry, a crayfisherwoman from Tora on the Wairarapa Coast, and catch up with two sisters who are taking on the family farm. Alongside that we’ve curated lovely things for your home made in rural New Zealand, women sharing their memories and moments, a profile on a rural artist, and social photos from recent rural community events around the country.

Shepherdess will be launching on Wednesday during New Zealand AgriFood Week. Find out more about the launch event and RSVP here.

For magazine subscriptions visit the Shepherdess website.

Subscribe to our New Zealand AgriFood Week Newsletters

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