An update from Prof. Tom Brooking, NZHA President

Dear NZHA Members,

We have been busy here at Otago even if you have not heard a lot from us recently.  First, we have spent some time revamping our association’s website, which has a blog embedded in it.  This is now up and running (obviously!) and will allow us to quickly highlight matters of moment, items of shared interest, and simply better keep in touch with one another.  Thanks to Michael Stevens for his mighty efforts in overseeing the website’s upgrade and its administration.  The decision to do away with a hard-copy newsletter will save us money while the new, user-friendly website, which I will try to take advantage of as President, should facilitate much more regular contact.  So please send in news of your department or institution’s doings and any other information relevant to NZHA members to Michael and he will accordingly load a new blog entry.

Second, our treasurer John Stenhouse has been very busy straightening out our finances.  In large part this revolves around separating conference costs and expenditure from the organisation’s general operation.  This both clarifies and simplifies matters financial, as does adjusting our systems to synchronise with the usual tax year ending 31 March.  The specifics of this will be laid before the Annual General Meeting for consideration in November later this year.  In the meantime I can report that we are in good shape and have a clear idea of what we can spend on both the conference and assistance to worthy, historical causes.  I thank John for his sterling work in this area.

Third, it gives me pleasure to formally announce that the NZHA has joined the Royal Society of New Zealand.  We sincerely believe that this will greatly assist us in raising our national profile, especially with Government, but within academia too.  We believe that the small cost of $4 per member will increase our lobbying power in relation to matters such as maintaining Marsden Fund-based funding for projects emanating from the Humanities.

Fourth, we have been writing letters to Government on matters of concern, especially the opening hours of the Alexander Turnbull Library and the cessation of scholarships offered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade on historical topics related to New Zealand’s foreign relations.  In the latter case we have had a victory.  The Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Murray McCully, has recently informed us that the scholarships will be reinstated from July.  This positive development is a good illustration of the value of belonging to the NZHA and the utility of working with other organisations such as ARANZ and PHANZA on such issues.

Fifth, conference planning is well underway and the call for papers went out some weeks ago.  We have attracted an excellent set of keynote speakers so 20-22 November promises to be an exciting few days in Dunedin.  We are proud that ours is a conference open to all – so please register and attend if you are keen.

Finally, in the spirit of the Calvinist city of improving weather from which I write, please remember to pay your annual subscription as soon as you can.

With very best wishes,

Professor Tom Brooking
NZHA President