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‘Palmy Proud’? Audience and Approach in Writing the History of a Provincial City

March 3rd, 2021


In this Public History Talk,  co-editor and a writer for City at the Centre: A History of Palmerston North Margaret Tennant will discuss the dilemmas faced by its editors and the question of audience for such a volume: whether to take a thematic, ‘slice’ or chronological approach, how much to assume in terms of local knowledge, and whether to link with a commemorative event. City at the Centre evolved with the knowledge of other, complementary forms of story-telling about place, but also against perceptions of Palmerston North as ‘boring’ and less significant than the four main centres. How much history is obliged to become promotion becomes an issue. And, as with any publication, there are always the things which would have been done differently with hindsight.

Pulled together during the 2020 Covid lockdown, City at the Centre was published in October 2020.

In a previous life Margaret Tennant lectured in history at Massey University, her special interests the history of women, of health and of social policy.  She has more recently focused on local history, and is on the PHANZA national committee.

These monthly Public History Talks are a collaboration between the National Library of New Zealand and the Ministry for Culture and Heritage.


Recorded live at the National Library of New Zealand, 3 March 2020.

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