What's a Zine?
A zine (pronounced ‘zeen’, like magazine) is generally a small, self-published miniature magazine or booklet. Like magazines, they often combine words and pictures, but there are no rules about what you have to include.
Zines often touch on a variety of topics from music and art, to politics, sexuality, humor and personal writing. Some zines have comics, others include poetry, stories, illustrations, collage or whatever else the zinemaker wants!
Zines are special because they allow you to speak for yourself, on your own terms - your zine can be exactly how you want it.
Zines can be made entirely on digital devices, or you can make them by hand and then photocopy or scan and print them to make copies. Once the zines are printed and put together, zinemakers share their zines with friends and whānau, and sell or trade with other zinemakers at zine markets. Some people sell their zines in bookstores, put them in libraries, or sell them through social media or sites like Etsy.
People who create zines are likely to be more motivated by self-expression and artistic passion than they are by profit. Zines are usually sold cheaply and sometimes distributed for free.
Zines have typically been much more about creating something you love and getting your voice out there, rather than making money.
Zine culture has a massive history which you can read more about here.
For some examples of what zines look like, you can download some copies from our Downloadable Zines page.
Zines have often been a tool for people whose voices weren’t being published or represented in the mainstream media. Self-publishing allows the creator to speak for themselves. There’s a long, proud history of zines being created and shared in minority communities, particularly by queer people, feminists, political groups and racial and ethnic minorities.
In the United States, there’s enitre zine markets dedicated to BIPOC zinemakers. In Aotearoa, groups like Migrant Zine Collective and Mellow Yellow are focused on representing the voices of ethnic and racial minorities.
Awa Wahine is an online zine run by Ataria Sharman (Ngāpuhi, Tapuika and Pākehā) and featuring the work of dozens of wāhine Māori.
Based in Whangārei, Awa Wahine is a zine kaupapa designed to showcase and uplift the work of wāhine Māori. Projects like Awa Wahine are platforms for writers and creatives who might not otherwise be published. Through self-publishing, zines circumvent the social and cultural barriers in mainstream media that prevent diverse voices from being heard.
When Pākehā are so often the ones telling the stories about who and what makes up Aotearoa, it's important that others speak up and assert that their thoughts, feelings and perspectives are just as important. Zines are one way to do this. Though there's some stunning Māori and Pasifika creatives making zines in Aotearoa, we're still in need of more representation. The Rangatahi Zine Fund is designed to help challenge this.
Zine culture has a complicated relationship with money. Traditionally, zines are made and sold for reasons other than profit and are more concerned with self-expression and the sharing of ideas. A recent survey we ran observed that the majority of our community are resistant to the idea of zinemaking as a for-profit endeavor.
However for Māori and Pasifika it's important to acknowledge that there is a long history of indigenous creativity being devalued, appropriated and exploited. As such, we believe the same anti-profit attitudes common in zine culture aren't necessarily applicable for indigenous creatives. Many zines can be understood as mahitoi - art pieces reflecting the same cultural traditions that have been appropriated by dominant cultures. Ensuring that mahitoi is fairly paid for challenges and begins to undo the norms of appropriation, while also raising expectations around the value of indigenous creativity.
For this reason, we believe that indigenous makers should determine their own relationships between zinemaking and profit, rather than necessarily adhering to the dominant anti-capitalist mode.
Wellington Zinefest has featured work by some very cool Māori and Pasifika zinemakers. Some to check out include:
Koekoe te tūī, e ketekete te kākā, e kūkū te kererū.
The tūī chatters, the parrot gabbles, the wood pigeon coos
The popular meaning of this is, ‘It takes all kinds of people.’