Salient is the weekly students' magazine of the Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association (VUWSA) at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. Salient was established in 1938[3] and originally published in newspaper format, but is now published as a magazine. Salient's style and editorial position can change from year to year due to changes in editors. However, the magazine has generally taken a left-wing stance.



The Salient editor-in-chief is an employee of VUWSA operating under a charter that grants editorial independence. The editor is appointed and employed under a fixed term contract that covers roughly the beginning to end of the academic year. Previous involvement with the magazine is not a prerequisite for applicants, although most have had some role at Salient prior to their editorship. At various times in Salient's history, and consistently since 2011, the editorship has been shared between two people.

Notable past editors include former Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer, editor of Metro magazine Simon Wilson, Queen's Counsel Hugh Rennie, and New Zealand Listener writer Toby Manhire.[4]

Former editors

  • 2015 — Sam McChesney
  • 2014 — Cam Price and Duncan McLachlan[5]
  • 2013 — Molly McCarthy and Stella Blake-Kelly
  • 2012 — Ollie Neas and Asher Emanuel
  • 2011 — Uther Dean and Elle Hunt
  • 2010 — Sarah Robson
  • 2009 — Jackson James Wood
  • 2008 — Tristan Egarr
  • 2007 — Steve Nicoll
  • 2006 — James Robinson
  • 2005 — Emily Braunstein
  • 2004 — Sarah Barnett
  • 2003 — Michael Appleton
  • 2002 — Max Rashbrooke
  • 2001 — Nikki Burrows
  • 2000 — Nikki Burrows
  • 1999 — Mike Beggs
  • 1998 — Jonathan Hill
  • 1997 — Toby Manhire
  • 1996 — James Palmer
  • 1995 — Vic Waghorn
  • 1994 — Andrew Chick
  • 1993 — Tony Smith
  • 1992 — Cathie Sheat
  • 1991 — Carl Dawson
  • 1990 — Barbara Duke
  • 1989 — Belinda Howard
  • 1988 — Bernie Steeds
  • 1987 — Grant O'Neill
  • 1986 — Richard Adams
  • 1985 — Jane Hurley
  • 1984 — Sally Zwartz
  • 1983 — Mark Cubey
  • 1982 — Mark Wilson
  • 1981 — Stephen A'Court
  • 1980 — Stephen A'Court
  • 1979 — Peter Beach
  • 1978 — Simon Wilson
  • 1977 — David Murray
  • 1976 — John Ryall
  • 1975 — Antony Ward, Mark Derby, Bruce Robinson
  • 1974 — Roger Steele
  • 1973 — Peter Franks, Roger Steele
  • 1972 — Gil Peterson
  • 1971 — Roger Cruickshank, George Rosenberg
  • 1970 — David Harcourt
  • 1969 — Roger Wilde
  • 1968 — Bill Logan
  • 1967 — Gerard Curry, Barrie Saunders
  • 1966 — Hugh Rennie
  • 1965 — Hugh Rennie, John Llewellyn
  • 1964 — Bill Alexander, David Wright, Anthony Haas
  • 1963 — Geoffrey Palmer, Ian Grant, Robin Bromby
  • 1962 — Murray White
  • 1961 — Baldwin March
  • 1960 — Ian Grant
  • 1959 — Colin Bickler
  • 1958 — Terry Kelliher
  • 1957 — Conrad Bollinger, Antony Wood
  • 1956 — Nick Turner
  • 1955 — Brian Shaw
  • 1954 — Dan Donovan
  • 1953 — Trevor Hill
  • 1952 — Trevor Hill
  • 1951 — Bill Cameron, Maurice McIntyre
  • 1950 — Denny Garrett
  • 1949 — Peter Jenkins, Denny Garrett
  • 1948 — Bill Cameron, Jean Melling, Alec McLeod
  • 1947 — Alec McLeod
  • 1946 — Bruce Milburn, Lyster Paul, Bill Cameron
  • 1945 — W.K.T. (Kemp) Fowler
  • 1944 — W.K.T. (Kemp) Fowler
  • 1943 — Cecil Crompton
  • 1942 — George Turner, Cecil Crompton
  • 1941 — Shirley Grinlinton
  • 1940 — Maurice Boyd
  • 1939 — Derek Freeman
  • 1938 — A.H. (Bonk) Scotney


Salient news is predominately focused on student issues, the students' association, and the university itself. However, Salient has also reported on national and international items outside of "student" issues. For instance there was significant coverage of the Iraq invasion in 2003. Previous editors include Sophie Boot (2014), Chris McIntyre (2013), Stella Blake-Kelly and Hugo McKinnon (2011), Molly McCarthy (2010), Michael Oliver (2009), Seonah Choi (2008), Laura McQuillan (2007), Nicola Kean (2006), and Keith Ng (2004-2005).

Salient is a member of the Aotearoa Student Press Association (ASPA), which has intermittently had a press gallery journalist in the New Zealand House of Representatives. As Salient is based in Wellington, the ASPA press gallery associate has typically doubled-up as the news editor for Salient. The current press gallery representative is Sophie Boot.[6]


Salient employs a full-time designer who is responsible for the look of the magazine. Because the designer is typically employed for only a one-year term, the visual aesthetic of the magazine can change significantly from year to year. Previous designers include Imogen Temm (2014), Laura Burns (2013),[7] Juliette Wanty (2010),[8] Rory Harnden (2009), Tony Barnao (2007-2008), Grant Buist (2007) and Dave Batt (2005).[9]


Salient has been a home to a number of comics and cartoons, and they traditionally have their place on the last page of the magazine. Past comics such as ASCII and Grant Buist's Brunswick have won critical awards, with ASCII winning an Aotearoa Student Press Association (ASPA) award in 2005.[10][2] Previous comics have included Being Blind,[2] Man, ASCII (originally published in Waikato University's Nexus' magazine'),[10] Newtown Ghetto Anger,[2] The Chronicle, Drunk Duck,[2] Uni Life, Super Academic Friends,[2] The Academic Idol Comic, and G33K by Sparx.[2]


As well as publishing in print, Salient operates a frequently updated website. In 2013, the Salient website was redeveloped, and won the award for best website at the ASPAs.[2]Categories:

Radio station

Salient FM, known as VBC until 2015, is a non-profit station which has operated at Victoria University of Wellington since 2007.[2] It took the place of Radio Active as the university's campus-based and student-oriented radio station. It is funded by the university and VUWSA through the budget allocated for Salient, and also has advertisers and sponsors.[2]

In October 2013, VUWSA held a referendum asking whether it should cease funding the station from 2014 after a student moved a motion requesting a referendum at VUWSA's AGM.[2] Out of the 2,105 votes cast on the question, 61 percent favoured continuing to fund the VBC.[23]

As of May 2014, VUWSA President Sonya Clark had been made a trustee of the defunct VBC Trust in order to wind it down, so that VUWSA could take control of the station. The Trust owed IRD about $3,000 in unpaid tax, which Clark said VUWSA intended to pay. The 2014 Salient editors expressed an interest in transforming the VBC into "Salient Radio".[24] In 2015, the station was rebranded Salient FM.


The student magazine of Victoria University of Wellington has been published under a number of different titles since the early twentieth century: Spike (1902–1964), Smad (1930–1937), and finally Salient (1938–).

Salient was originally published in newspaper format, but is now published as a magazine and online.

ASPA Awards

Salient has participated in the ASPA Student Media Awards since their inception in 2003. The magazine dominated the first two years of the awards winning amongst other categories Best Publication in 2003 and 2004. Otago's Critic is generally seen as Salient's strongest competition and in 2005 turned the tables, sweeping a number of categories including Best Publication with Salient coming second. Critic won Best Publication again in 2006 and Salient came second.

In 2009, Salient won the award for Best Publication. Salient dominated these awards with five first places and eight other placings.[25] In 2011, Salient also won best publication. However, in both 2012 and 2013 Salient has been runners-up in best publication to Critic.

Waghorn affair

In 1995 there was controversy surrounding the editor Vic Waghorn, such that a Special General Meeting of VUWSA was called in June to dismiss her from the role. The motion to dismiss Waghorn at the meeting was soundly defeated 250 to 3, but it was not the end of the matter. Personal grievances and accusations she had misappropriated funds led to her being suspended in September by the VUWSA Executive. In response, Waghorn managed to change the cover of the final issue of Salient "to a cartoon depiction of cunnilingus captioned 'suck it hard'". Most of the covers were removed before release however.[26]

The affair led to a change to the VUWSA constitution so that it would be harder to dismiss a Salient editor in the future.[26]

Fee rise leak and court injunction

In September 2005, the Vice-Chancellor of Victoria University obtained a court injunction to prevent an issue of Salient from being distributed[27][28] – thought to be the first time in the magazine's history this has happened. The issue of Salient contained information obtained from leaked University Council documents with details about possible university fee increases of 5 to 10 percent. The controversy made national media, with several items on the television news. The university failed to realise that information was put on to the ASPA newswire, hence the information was published in several other student magazines and on the internet. Distribution of Salient was eventually allowed, four days late after Salient and the university reached an out-of-court settlement. The documents were returned to the university, reportedly with pictures of male genitalia drawn over them.[29]

Listing of Chinese people as a species to be wary of

In April 2006, Salient published a short piece which put "Chinese", along with animals like poisonous snakes and penguins, in a list of "top five species we should be wary of". The supposed "joke" upset the Chinese community and caused huge protests from both Chinese students and the Chinese Embassy. Accused of being blatantly racist, editor James Robinson apologised, saying "It was a ridiculous jab that was honestly so stupid I didn't even think twice about it." However, he argued people who were offended had misinterpreted it: "We put 'the Chinese' between 'penguins' and 'very poisonous snakes' on the list, and people somehow took it seriously." He also defended his right to publish it, saying "It's not hate speech or inciting violence against the Chinese race. It would be a dangerous precedent to come out and say, 'Sorry, we were totally out of our minds to print such a thing'."[30]

Naked Hu Jintao cover

In May 2008, Salient published a feature article concerning the rise of China as a new world superpower. To promote this article the cover that week depicted a naked, yet to be identified, Salient staffer draped in a Chinese flag, with Hu Jintao's face photoshopped onto their own. The cover invoked a strong reaction from the Wellington Chinese community, with pro-China students removing the magazine from distribution at the University's Karori Campus. Following this disruption, the Chinese Students' Association of Victoria University presented a petition of 133 signatures calling for an apology. To date, Salient has not apologised.[31] Responses from the Chinese community were mixed, with some commentators mentioning that this controversial cover (in conjunction with the 2006 satirical comparison of Chinese to dangerous animals) resulted in a possible ban on Salient writers travelling to China.

Lundy 500

In July 2009, Salient editor Jackson Wood courted controversy by announcing the "Lundy 500", an event whereby "teams of vehicles ... [would] travel from Petone to Palmerston North as convicted double murderer Mark Lundy did in 2000, before murdering wife Christine and daughter Amber, according to the prosecution at his 2002 trial." Participants were tasked with doing the trip in 68 minutes or less, the same time Lundy is argued to have driven the distance. Wood argued that the "event was designed to draw attention to some of the inconsistencies in the New Zealand legal system", and emphasised that he wasn't encouraging anyone to break the law.[4] However, the proposed event was harshly criticised in the media,[4][4] and on August 2, it was announced that the event was to be cancelled. Wood apologised to the Lundy family and wrote that: "He acknowledged that their viewpoints were not adequately taken into account before the event was announced on Friday, and that there were other ways for this point to be communicated".[4]

A similar re-enactment of the travel involved in the Lundy case, dubbed the "Lundy Three Hundy" was proposed in 2013 by Nic Miller. It was likewise criticised in the media, with Mathew Grocott writing that "this event should not go ahead and if those involved have any human decency then it won't go ahead."[4]