National Business Review
founder Henry Newrick has returned to Whanganui and has teamed up with Tony Hodge and Rod Trott of Whanganui River Developments Ltd to publish a book promoting Whanganui.
Henry's background is in publishing.
"I started at the age of 11," he says. "I did the school newsletter and sold it at 1d a copy. It had to be run off on a Gestetner machine and I'd sell the resulting paper to my school friends."
The paper, full of jokes and anecdotes, was called the Marist Gazette and, for about a year, became part of the landscape of Marist Bros School on the corner of Dublin and Wicksteed streets in Whanganui. The school later moved to Totara St and is now called St Marcellin School.
Henry's family was well known, with his grandfather, a recognised art historian and restorer in the UK, curator of the Sarjeant Gallery for 25 years until 1950 when he retired.
"My aunt was the first female radio announcer in New Zealand — at a radio station here in Whanganui — with her plummy British accent, she did the news. Another aunt was a nurse, my dad drove service cars up the Parapara for Hatrick's. He also managed the Pipiriki Guest House before it burned down [the first time] in the 1930s."
With his roots in Whanganui, Henry swore he'd return one day, and he has.
"It's my heritage." When he left Whanganui for university in 1965, he was away for more than 50 years, returning in 2016.
"I love it here. As long as I can go out every now and again, just to see what's happening in the world."
Henry's next venture into publishing was at university.
"I was the advertising manager of Salient, the student magazine for Victoria University. I needed to fund my way through Uni, so I saw this job advertised to sell advertising space. In the space of three of four weeks I managed to quadruple the amount of space sold." They fired the existing sales manager and appointed Henry.
"I was doing an arts and law degree at the time."
He got involved with New Zealand Union of Students' Association (NZUSA) organising discounts for students around the country.
"Then I came up with the idea of publishing a Student Guide to New Zealand. This was a small publication for students locally and overseas and, again, I had to produce the whole thing myself. One of the memorable things about doing this guide was I flogged an ad to the Russian Embassy."
The sales meeting was secondary to the consumption of a bottle of vodka between Henry and the officer he was dealing with.
They took a page urging people to visit USSR on the "50th anniversary of the glorious October Revolution". It was 1967.
A little later his mother died, not long after her 50th birthday.
"It had a big impact on me.
"I thought 'life's too short' so I walked out of university and started a publishing company when I was 19. I put out a newsletter called Property News in association with a Wellington lawyer called Glen Wiggs."
Then he put out a couple of monthly newsletters on property investment and oil/minerals.
"The mining boom was running high. I put out a tourist guide called Focus on Wellington, then I had this brilliant idea — what this country needs is a good business newspaper. I played around with lots of names and finally settled on National Business Review (NBR)."
In August, 1970, the first issue hit the newsstands, with Barry Saunders (ex-Salient) as editor.
The next year, economic necessity brought other shareholders into NBR.
"Other people shared the vision, and we made it happen," says Henry. "We built it up and advertisers came to accept the publication and give us contracts.
"But it burnt me out and at 27 I had had enough. I got out of NBR in 1977 and turned my hand to writing. I wrote a couple of books on art which are now standard reference works in New Zealand libraries."
He also set up Medici Art Galleries on The Terrace in Wellington.
"In a gallery situation, you are waiting for people to come in and I needed to be out there doing stuff, so I got out of the gallery in 1980."
His next venture was as far removed as it can get from publishing and art. He joined up with people who had a concession to search for shipwreck treasure. They needed funds, so Henry scoured the world for the necessary money and succeeded.
"We were able to certify with Lloyds of London that the funds were there, literally half an hour before deadline. The expedition went ahead but didn't find anything, unfortunately." Weather and high seas were against them.
"I came back to New Zealand and got the bug for publishing again.
"With a $15,000 bank draft I formed a small publishing company called Multimedia and Associates."
They built the company into a group with an annual turnover of more than $3million.
"I started a magazine called Wellington Cosmo with Lloyd Jones, Bob Jones' younger brother as my editor. I was having a cocktail party at home one night and there was a knock on the door. It was a process server from AJ Park and Sons, Patent Attorneys. It was from the Hearst Corporation in New York alleging infringement of copyright." Cosmopolitan Magazine was suing Wellington Cosmo.
"They asked for our response within 24 hours so I called up AJ Park in the morning and said, 'Watch television news tonight at 6 o'clock.'" From a David and Goliath angle, television interviewed Henry and Lloyd, giving them six minutes of prime TV time and fabulous publicity. The High Court eventually refused to grant the injunction and Hearst Corporation threatened further action.
"We'd milked all the publicity that I could and then I made a business decision to change the name to City Magazine."
The stock market crash of 1987 hit hard and Multimedia went into liquidation.
"I licked my wounds for a while then I founded Business Ideas." It was a monthly newsletter which gained a huge circulation in 40 countries over the next three years.
"Then I was offered the only 'job' I've had in my life working for someone else. A large publishing group in Singapore was losing a humungous amount of money and wanted someone with a publishing background to sort them out. I went to Singapore, took charge of this group and got them back to profitability in seven months." It was a one-year contract.
Henry was invited to return to London to help raise capital for another treasure hunt in the waters of Antigua and Barbuda, seeking Spanish wrecks. It didn't go ahead.
"But I stayed on in the UK, having dual nationality ... and started a telecoms company dealing in what I call word numbers [alpha numeric phone numbering], phone numbers that spell words. They were unknown in the UK at that stage but were very big in the US."
The business is still going, although the original concept did not take off. Now he and his wife are home in Whanganui, but Henry is still busy.
"Rod Trott and Tony Hodge invited me to join Whanganui River Developments. We're developing 800 acres [323ha] upriver as a wilderness retreat, 30 minutes by jetboat beyond Pipiriki, and we're also doing this book on Whanganui. Perversely I called it From the Sea to the Mountain ... it's a coffee table publication in A4 landscape format. John Maslin is editing, Doug Davidson is writing sponsored editorials and we're keeping the price under $25. We're doing 20,000 copies and a huge number will be given away to put Whanganui on the map." The book should be available later this year.
"The whole idea is to attract investment into this city."
Welcome home, Henry.