Horowhenua mother launches new magazine Shepherdess for rural women

New Zealand's magazine industry took a massive hit this year, with some major titles closing down and others sold off.

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It’s called Sheperdess and it’s filled with stories from the farm. Source: Seven Sharp

But a mum in Horowhenua is bucking the trend by launching a new magazine, Shepherdess, aimed at rural women. It is filled with stories from the farm.

Kristy McGregor got the idea while out working on the farm one day, thinking about all the rural media out there.

"But it's all technical focused, it's about how to feed calves or milk prices or whatever it might be," she told TVNZ1's Seven Sharp.

"I'm sure there are other women that don't want to read that stuff. I know I'm one of them."

Enter Shepherdess, a new magazine for rural Kiwi women.

"There're obviously elements you have to put up with, like your partner coming home stinking like cow s**t or of milk, like he has the last few weeks," McGregor said.

Despite no publishing experience whatsoever, McGregor pushed on. 

Even if that meant starting a publishing house on, say, a fifth-generation Horowhenua farm.

Hubby Mike Keeling, a fifth-generation farmer, admits he was a bit sceptical when the idea came up.

"I'm a bit of a realist. [But] when Kristy says she's gonna do something, she'll do it."

Commissioning experienced writers, photographers, as well as some family help - Keeling's mum does some of the recipes, while his sister does the fashion pages - it all started coming together this year.

The first edition came out in March. Just as the Alert Level 4 lockdown was starting.

"Three-thousand [magazines] basically turned up at the house, turned up at the cow shed, Mike unpacked it, the pallets with a tractor," McGregor said.

"We had all these magazines, we had a grand idea to get them out and it didn't go as expected."

Instead they went on a bit of a holiday before calving began, selling and giving away boxes of the magazines around the East Cape.

It's been hard work but it's all paid off. 

This week, for the first time, Shepherdess is now on shelves across the country. 

"It's about looking at rural New Zealand in a positive light, because I think rural New Zealand gets a bit of a battering about small town mindsets," McGregor said.

"Actually there's some really cool stuff, there's so many amazing women doing amazing things."