The glitterati came out last night to celebrate the 80th birthday of the New Zealand Woman's Weekly. More than 250 celebrities, politicians, staff and advertising clients thronged The Wharf on Northcote Point to toast the iconic mag.

Former beauty queen Lorraine Downes, who made her first covergirl appearance for the Weekly in 1983 as Miss Universe, made a heart-warming speech. Twenty-nine years later Downes plays covergirl again in the latest edition - on newsstands today - in honour of the birthday milestone. "Some things do get better with age," she laughed.

A star-studded musical line-up included Peter Urlich as DJ and Jessie Gurunathan crooning jazz ballads. Convicted activist Lucy Lawless, who was in court on Thursday looking contrite, came dressed in her glamorous celebrity best and offered the dulcet tones of her voice to the occasion.

The Hon Judith Collins, who also had a rather trying week in the news, was among the guests with fellow National MP, Nikki Kaye.


Labour politician Jacinda Ardern arrived with her boss, David Shearer, who is no stranger to the women's magazine. Earlier this year he gushed about his bravery in attempting to negotiate his wife's release from Somali gunmen.

"You can't take a hard-line stance with somebody with a gun," the Labour leader said in the interview. Critics may say he is yet to take much of a hard-line in politics, even with a metaphorical pistol to his temple.

There were plenty of pretty TV anchors and soap stars in attendance for the social snappers, but it was the familiar faces, such as Judy Bailey, Alison Gofton and Georgina Beyer, that reminded everyone of the Weekly's unique Kiwi heritage.

Editor Sarah Stuart said the magazine had constantly evolved with the times over the past eight decades, but the universal themes hadn't changed. "We are and always have been a proudly New Zealand magazine."

Prominent Kiwis have offered their advice over the years. Former National party leader, Dr Don Brash, was a financial columnist for the Weekly during the 1980s. "I did it for some years," he told The Diary. "I thought it was very worthwhile because the circulation was very large and it had a big impact."

The magazine's publisher, Sarah Sandley, said practical advice had long been a staple for four generations of readers.

"The magazine has also provided a connection to other women, brought uplifting stories about Kiwi battlers, intimate revelations about celebrities, and helped us enjoy innocent moments of fun and escapism in our week," Sandley said.

The Weekly has come a long way from its launch in 1932 at the height of the Great Depression. Editor Audrey Argall said at that time: "Hundreds of new publications make their appearance every year. Some are still-born; others are strangled at birth; still others lead a short and languishing existence; only a few survive and live to a ripe old age."

Argall, who lasted only weeks before financial difficulties forced the magazine's sale, could not have predicted that ripe old age would be 80 ... and counting.