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The New Zealand Herald's readership is soaring - the biggest newspaper in the country is now also the fastest growing.

Readership of the newspaper increased 7 per cent over the past 12 months - from 560,000 to 599,000 readers, according to Nielsen Media Research survey results released yesterday.

It is the biggest readership increase for any daily or Sunday newspaper and is the Herald's highest readership in seven years.

The newspaper's nearest daily competitor, the Dominion Post, fell 6.1 per cent to 231,000 readers. The Sunday Star-Times lost 30,000 readers to 533,000.

The New Zealand Herald is the only daily newspaper in the country to record readership and circulation increases over the past 12 months.

Audit Bureau of Circulation results, also released yesterday, show Herald sales are up slightly to 170,677. At the same time, the Dominion Post was down 4053 sales, to 84,047; the Press in Christchurch was down 1988 sales to 81,017; and the Waikato Times was down 949 sales to 40,096.

Every weekday edition of the Herald is more widely read than the Sunday Star-Times. The Weekend Herald and Wednesday edition of the Herald have more than 630,000 readers.

"These results reflect high-impact and high-appeal papers throughout the year," said editor Tim Murphy, "and in particular outstanding Herald team coverage on all the biggest public issues of the year including the Christchurch earthquake, the Pike River mining disaster and the creation of the Super City."

The news was also good for our sister paper, the Herald on Sunday. Its circulation increased 6.4 per cent last year, to 96,069, and readership increased 2.2 per cent to 379,000.

Both the Sunday Star-Times and Sunday News lost readers and sales last year. The Sunday Star-Times was down 6939 sales to 160,592 and the Sunday News was down 11,287 sales to 51,740.

Meanwhile, the Herald's online site continues to soar. nzherald.co.nz increased its average weekly domestic audience by a significant 34 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2010 - to 807,000.

Visitors to the nzherald mobile site increased by 267 per cent to 73,000 unique browsers a week.

The Herald's award-winning iPad app remains one of the most downloaded New Zealand apps since its launch last July. By the end of 2010 there were 10,000 iPad users accessing the application each week.