A rapidly changing print industry has driven the rebranding of Swug to WePrint to appeal to all New Zealand printers and graphic arts specialists
The two-day conference at the Marlborough Convention Centre from July 17-18 will see the return of Kellie Northwood, chief executive of Australian-based TSA, and Kirk Hardy from the Drug Detection Agency, both popular speakers at last year’s event, among others that reflect the broader industry.
Swug chairman, Russell Wieck, operations manager for NZME.Print says he’s not sure what initiated the conversation about rebranding the organisation, but he felt it was time to freshen up what they had to offer the industry. He says, “We’re in an industry which is shrinking across the world every year, although the rate of decline in newspaper printing in New Zealand is half that being seen in Australia.
“The newspaper industry here is quite buoyant depending on which sector you look at and some aren’t declining at all. Having said that, SWUG wants to broaden its appeal and the executive committee made the decision some time ago to include heatset.
“Newspapers put a lot of heatset print into papers in the form of inserts, stationery, etc. The new name WePrint represents movement forward, so that we are not just focussed on one sector, but all types of print.”
Swug treasurer, Craig Harrison, general manager of operations at PMP New Zealand, agrees, saying that the rebranding comes from the concept of inclusivity. Swug has previously only included those involved in the newspaper industry. He says, “About six years ago, the chairman at the time, Dan Blackbourn suggested we include heatset printers. We are now going a step further and opening it up to all printers including digital and sheetfed and making it a New Zealand wide printing industry conference.”
Sponsors have reacted positively to the move, saying the new name should attract more people to the annual conference and enable us to get a wider range of relevant speakers. Harrison says, “There’s a lot of common ground across the industry now and as we always did get a good turnout, we need to grow it and get more people involved because we speak the same language. There’s an ever growing interaction between digital and newsprint and that’s only likely to increase.”
He says smaller communities cannot afford to invest in large web presses so it makes sense to attract delegates from these places where they invest in other forms of printing.
PMP Auckland digital designer Sora Waningsinggel designed the new logo for WePrint, an adaption of last year’s conference logo depicting the concept that the printing industry forms a tangibly trusted part of every community. Its design aims to reflect the inclusivity of the new WePrint group.
Swug New Zealand traces its history back to 1986 when a number of local production staff travelled to attend the Australian Swug event. They understood the core concept of setting up a venue for newspaper production people to come together to help solve operational issues by way of open discussion between users and suppliers.
John Green of Wilson & Horton, now NZME.Print, became the first New Zealand chairman, and the inaugural Swug New Zealand Conference took place in Mangere in late 1999, attracting about 20 delegates with an equal number of suppliers. Conferences took place at Dunedin, Gisborne, Wellington, Whakatane, Nelson, Napier, Christchurch and Hamilton, before going into a hiatus until the Taupo conference in 2010.
Then, with a new committee on board and the input of new energy, it enjoyed a record-breaking event at Taupo’s Wairakei Resort over two days. Last year’s Auckland conference also enjoyed great success with 120 delegates attending.
Harrison describes Swug as an industry institution ever since its inception here in New Zealand. Regarded as fit for purpose at the time, the organisation recognises how the industry has changed and has adapted to changes such as digitisation in parts of newspaper production.
Geoff Austin, production manager of the Gold Coast Bulletin, founded the Australian Swug organisation in 1985 for users of single width coldset newspaper presses in Australia. Like Swug New Zealand, it looked to provide a forum for production people to exchange ideas and information about the printing process at the grass roots level.
However, with Swug Australia in recess for about two years, WePrint hopes to attract some delegates from that industry to New Zealand in July.

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