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February 4, 2009 | by  | in Online Only | [ssba]

Covers of Salient unite

As part of my ongoing project to have absolutely no life and devote myself mind, body and soul to the job of editing this magazine this year, I have decided to catalogue some of the old covers of Salient. Ambitious as this might sound it isn’t really that time consuming. The most tedious part is finding some interesting story and having to read the entire edition.

So here are a few of the covers that I found interesting. The work in progress is going up on our Facebook fan page (73 fans and going strong!) and hopefully-eventually I’ll burn a CD with them on there for any of you Salient-ophiles who may be interested.

Here goes:


New Zealand had just entered into World War II and students were coming to terms with knowing that their fathers, brothers, friends and collegues were being killed. The 1940 Salient covers a diverse range of topics from how the war was affecting campus life, how censorship laws limited free speech, the dangers of communism and why we should be pacifists.


While on holiday on Kawau Island my father met the Editor of the 1959 Salient, Colin Bickler. If you follow that link you’ll find that Bickler has gone on to do some pretty hard hitting journalism. His year of Salient was no different. On March 10, 1959 a supplement issue of Salient was  bought out to publisise allegations of corruption of the student executive. There were also major reports on inconsistent wardens at Weir, chastity and a University funding crisis.

The below cover is a great example of nothing changes around these here parts. It is also one of the earliest recorded lol cats in print.


Geoffery Palmer was a bushy tailed lawyer who was just about to go into working for a law firm. But before he became Prime Minister and one of our top constituional lawyers he was editor of Salient for three issues. In an interview with him last year he fonly recalled his time at Salient, although when I asked him about one particular editorial he did say that his opinons had change dramatically. Topics covered that year were varied ranging from Exec issues, talking to the head of the SIS, selective entry into university, coverage of the Labour party conference, whether hypnotism sessions should be allowed to take place in the Student Union Building and of course how shite the food on campus is (Things haven’t gotten any better). They also had the coolest President ever.


The last Editor who had to use a type setting machine (which may or may not have been haunted) recently emailed me with some words of wisdom. 1991 was an interesting year for Salient, it had turned into an arts based magazine somewhere in the 80s and Carl Dawson was looking to put it back in focus. Putting a full time journalist onto the pay role and keeping Salient relevent to the first incarnations of ‘Generation X’ hitting Victoria. Heavy use of Gary Larson cartoons, punchy headlines and a strong letters section and raising issues about the 4th National government’s eduction reform ensured that Salient appealed to the unwashed student masses and was a big success.


Lockwood Smith’s smiling face features heavily on the pages of the 1994 Salient. The reforms of the fourth Labour govt. were starting to hit hard on students. Salient reflected this by drawing closer to VUWSA and  focusing on the services and help that VUWSA could provide. Michael Laws tried dropping the VSM bomb. Fees went up, Tim Beaglehole quit as Dean of Arts, and Maori issues were regularly dealt with.


After a year in the doldums, Salient came back to drink some beers and kick some ass. Shakey at first, 2008s Editor Tristan Egarr carved a niche in Salient‘s history. Enraging the Chinese, espousing drug reform and arguing against a free market health system. The office was rejuvinated and some awesome issues were covered: Wellington as a pedestrian city, the defence of provocation, as well as interviews with Robert Fisk and a good segment of sitting Members of Parliament.


Well we haven’t had a cover yet. But hopefully we’re going to keep kicking some ass. We have a wide range of topics already in the works. The office is open Monday till very early Friday morning so drop in. You can send letters to us for the letters page by writing to or if you have an idea for an article, or an article itself email, if you just wanna annoy me flick email to

As I said at the top: if you wanna see all the covers visit the Salient Facebook page. Earn extra points if you become a fan!

Look forward to hearing from you, working with you and most probably pissing you off, at some point during the year.

Does anyone have a beer?


About the Author ()

The editor of this fine rag for 2009.

Comments (6)

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  1. Matt says:

    man the cats of 1959 were hideous creatures, surely more possum than feline.

  2. Sando says:

    that cover once again prove that lol cats are no recent phenomena. This reinforces the evidence already in place from America’s Funniest Home Videos.

  3. Bob Saget says:

    Hey now, don’t Danny Tanner my ass
    I’m a big fan of this mag – even bigger than when I watched the Olsen twins having their diapers changed.
    I love this mag. Very absorbent!

  4. comix fan says:

    1963: ‘fonly’ = fondly
    1981: ‘pay role’ = payroll
    2008: ‘rejuvinated’ = rejuvenated

    For an article with so many pictures, FFS, how do you do it? There weren’t that many words to check!
    Read for context as well as running spell-check, and just learn the common homonyms so that you don’t look like an illiterate editor …

    Despairing, totally.

  5. Wee Hamish says:

    “comix fan”

  6. colin bickler says:

    just been looking at your flattering comments and the page attacking exec. what I didn’t tell you before was that Salient in those days was supposed to be subject to censorship by the exec. i only accepted the editorship on the supposed understanding that the editor would decide what was sensitive enough to be censored! Of course nothing was ever submitted for censorship, hence the article published as a surprise. As far as I know nothing was ever again sent for censorship -who would dare? a minor blow for freedom I guess. best rgds

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