New Zealand History

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Hearth and Home: Reconstructing the Rural Kitchen, c1840–1940’

July 11th, 2017


 How do we capture the flurry of activity, the frenetic movement of people and goods, the routines and ruptures that shape individuals’ everyday experiences and the spaces in which they live? How do we write a history of domestic space, and what are the benefits of such an endeavour for the social or cultural historian? In this talk, Dr Katie Cooper will address these questions offering a peek through the window of New Zealand’s rural kitchens.

Dr Cooper is curator of colonial histories at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Her doctoral research, completed in 2016, examined the history of rural New Zealand to 1940, focusing on rural food ways and the kitchen as a functional and social space in rural homes.

Recorded at the National Library of New Zealand, 1 July 2017. 


The Māori War Effort at Home and Abroad 1917

June 7th, 2017


One hundred years ago in June 1917, the New Zealand Pioneer Battalion was toiling in the war torn environment around Messines in Belgium. The Pioneers had over a year’s experience as a mixed-race battalion (i.e. Maori, Pakeha and Pacific Islanders) and before that as the Maori Contingent and Otago Mounted Rifles Regiment at Gallipoli.

In this talk - Historian Monty Soutar, (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Awa, Ngai Tai) presents a recently delivered paper from the Myriad Faces of War Conference at Te Papa.

It invites the audience to contemplate the development of three processes and their results during 1917, so that they may understand the Maori situation after the First World War. It also includes waiata by Tā Apirana Ngata sung live by Hine Parata Walker, Te Mihinga Tukariri and Te Aniwa Nelson.

Recorded at the National Library of New Zealand, 7 June 2017.



New Zealand’s Rivers: can we learn from history?

May 21st, 2017


The government recently announced a proposal to make more of our rivers ‘swimmable' by 2040 – it has attracted significant controversy, demonstrating the level of concern about the state of our rivers among ordinary New Zealanders. In this talk, Catherine Knight, author of New Zealand’s Rivers: An environmental history, will provide important context to this debate by exploring some of our complex – and often conflicted – history with rivers since humans first settled in Aotearoa New Zealand. She will argue that knowing our history is an important foundation to forging a better future, both in terms of our environment and our socioeconomic wellbeing.

Catherine is an environmental historian. New Zealand’s Rivers: An environmental history (Canterbury University Press, 2016) has been longlisted for the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards 2017 and was selected as one of the Listener’s Best Books for 2016. Her previous book, Ravaged Beauty: An environmental history of the Manawatu (Dunmore Press, 2014), won the J.M. Sherrard major award for excellence in regional and local history, and Palmerston North Heritage Trust’s inaugural award for the best work of history relating to the Manawatu. Catherine is a policy and communications consultant and lives with her family on a small farmlet in the Manawatu, where they are restoring the totara forest.

Introduction by Chief Historian Neil Atkinson. Recorded at the National Library of New Zealand, 3 April 2017.



Reflections on the Big Smoke

April 18th, 2017


In this presentation Ben Schrader offers some reflections on the writing of his recent book The Big Smoke: New Zealand Cities, 1840-1920 (Bridget Williams Books, Wellington, 2016).

Why did he write the book and how did he go about it?  What were the challenges and rewards of writing a broad story in a narrowly researched field?  He then reveals some of the most important findings from the project and suggests ways they increase our understanding of New Zealand’s past.  Finally, he ponders how the work might shape future research. Might, for example, his focus on the lived experience of city dwellers suggest social history is making a long-awaited comeback?

Recorded at the National Library of New Zealand, 5 April 2017.

KŪPAPA - the bitter legacy of Māori alliances with the Crown

December 13th, 2015

RC176.jpgThe Treaty of Waitangi struck a bargain between two parties - the Crown and Māori. Its promises of security however, were followed from 1845 to 1872 by a series of volatile and bloody conflicts commonly known as the New Zealand Wars. Many people believe that these wars were fought solely between the Crown and Maori, when the reality is Maori aligned with both sides, resulting in three participants from differing viewpoints.

In this episode, lawyer and writer Ron Crosby discusses his most recent book, Kūpapa.

Introduction by Chief Historian Neil Atkinson. Recorded at the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, 7 October 2015. 

Richard Seddon: King of God’s Own

September 15th, 2015

Seddon_cover.jpgTom Brooking is Professor of History at the University of Otago. He specialises in New Zealand rural and environmental history, political history and historical links between New Zealand and Scotland. He is an author, co author and biographer of numerous books and publications, including the 2014 biography: Richard Seddon King of God's Own.

Although he was no saint Seddon was a far more complex and multi-faceted character than the often rather one-dimensional revisionist portraits within our historical literature. In this presentation, Tom Brooking will attempt to explain how he tried to challenge this increasingly orthodox view by attempting to understand Seddon according to the values of his own times rather than condemning him from a comfortable, presentist distance.

Introduction by Chief Historian Neil Atkinson. Recorded at the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, 2 September 2015.

Dr Steven Loveridge: New Zealand Society at War

August 6th, 2015


Steven Loveridge holds a PhD in history from Victoria University of Wellington and has researched, taught and written on various aspects of the First World War. This talk explores the dynamics of the mobilisation process and considers what it might add to our comprehension of wartime New Zealand.

Introduction by Senior Historian Gavin McLean, and recorded at the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, 6 August 2015.  

Dr Grant Morris: ‘Legal Villain’

July 1st, 2015


Dr Grant Morris is a Senior Lecturer in Law at Victoria University of Wellington. In this podcast he explores James Prendergast, the most infamous figure in New Zealand’s legal history. Known mainly for his condemnation of the Treaty of Waitangi as “a simple nullity” in 1877, Prendergast was a highly respected lawyer and judge and his good reputation remained intact until the 1980s, when the Treaty of Waitangi finally returned to the centre of New Zealand political life. The more the Treaty has been celebrated, the more Prendergast has been condemned. Who was this legal villain? Was he really a villain at all?

Introduciton by Chief Historian Neil Atkinson, and recorded at the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, 1 July 2015.

Andrew Francis: Enemy aliens and the New Zealand experience

June 3rd, 2015

This presentation by Andrew Francis discusses a still under-researched aspect of New Zealand’s war on the home front. It assesses the government, press and public’s conduct interwoven with Germans settlers’ wartime experiences. It considers the government’s task in attempting to safeguard the dominion’s security while remaining fair and just to New Zealand’s German communities; it analyses the role of the press, in particular those who fostered an increasingly hostile anti-German spirit; and it discusses the extent to which the public’s reaction to the ‘enemy in our midst’ was both a pseudo-patriotic response to wartime conditions and the culmination of an anti-foreigner campaign developed throughout the Victorian and Edwardian eras.

Introduction by Imelda Bargas, Senior Historian at the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Recorded at the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, 3 June 2015.

Imelda Bargas and Tim Shoebridge: New Zealand’s First World War Heritage

May 6th, 2015

Imelda Bargas and Tim Shoebridge are Senior Historians in the Ministry for Culture and Heritage's History Group.

In this talk Imelda and Tim will explain how they came to work on their book, New Zealand's First World War Heritage and some of the challenges they faced putting it together. They'll also explore the themes covered in the book, using some of their favourite stories and sites.

Recorded at the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, 6 May 2015.
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