Regional Round-up: Waikato

  • This marks the first of a series of ‘regional round-ups’ from around New Zealand. Our goal is to publish one every month or so, and produce a newsletter containing all contributions at the end of each ‘cycle’. Regional round-ups will alternate with regular blog posts as news and contributions come to hand.

Contributed by Dr Nēpia Mahuika.

History at the University of Waikato has been in full swing over the past year. We have begun a new course in Indigenous Histories, and are continuing with our popular courses in Writing Historical Fiction, History and Theory, Oral History, Madness and Health, Digital Histories, Witchcraft, Gardens, and our foundational courses in New Zealand, Australian and American histories, and historical Methodologies.

We have been running a regular seminar series that has welcomed a variety of speakers in and beyond Aotearoa including Associate Professor Katie Pickles (Canterbury), Professor John Weaver (McMaster University Canada), Professor Peter Holland (Otago), Professor Michael Roche (Massey), Duncan Campbell (ANU, Australia), and many other fantastic contributors.

Our Historical Research Unit has also been busy. The Historical Research Unit aims to facilitate and promote historical research in a range of areas across the university and beyond. The Unit has about 20 research associates. Later in October we are hosting a Māori Oral history Workshop and in early November a symposium on a Māori History of leadership of the LDS Church. Earlier this year we hosted a number of visiting speakers, and a symposium on Environmental Histories.

Dr Raymond Richards has been on leave, and has been working on a biography of Sir Roger Douglas to follow his biography of Sir Geoffrey Palmer. That book, Palmer: The Parliamentary Years, was published in 2010 by Canterbury University Press and was nominated for a New Zealand Post Book Award.

Dr James Beattie has been busy with several major works published in 2014, including three books and a co-written position piece that was invited to mark the twentieth anniversary of the journal, Environment and History. From May 2014, James has been working on a Marsden project with Dr. Richard Bullen on “Selling New China to New Zealand: Rewi Alley and the Art of Museum Diplomacy.” He is also working with Bullen on a forthcoming Exhibition of Chinese Art at Canterbury Museum (November 2014) and MTG Gallery Hawke’s Bay (mid-2015). As well, he is co-editing a book on Chinese environmental history with Professor Ts’ui-jung Liu, working on a special journal issue of Studies in the History of Gardens & Designed Landscapes, and completing his manuscript, South China-New Zealand Environmental Connections: Market Gardening, Gold Mining and Guangdong’s ‘Guiqiao’ Landscapes. In February, James convened a three-day international conference at Hamilton Gardens on “Gardens at the Frontier.” James has published a number of co-authored books this year. With Richard Bullen, Visions of Peace: The W.H. Youren Collection and the Art of Chinese Soft Diplomacy; with Emily O’Gorman and Matt Henry, Climate, Science, and Colonization: Histories from Australia and New Zealand, and with Edward D. Melillo and Emily O’Gorman, Eco-Cultural Networks and the British Empire: New Views on Environmental History. He has also produced a number of published articles and chapters.

Dr Nēpia Mahuika is the Waikato History Graduate Adviser and has also been busy giving keynote addresses at the National Oral History Association Conference in September of this year, and in Darwin in late September. Nēpia is teaching a new paper on Indigenous Histories (a paper he worked on while undertaking a Fulbright Visit to the University of Illinois Native American and Indigenous Studies Program in 2013) and has been working toward a book with Oxford University Press on Indigenous Oral History Method and Theory that will appear in mid-2015. He has been collaborating on a number of projects including a History of Māori Political Thought and a Handbook of Indigenous Research Theory with Veronica Tawhai (Massey University), and an international compilation on Indigenous Oral History Practices with Lumbee scholar Malinda Maynor-Lowery (North Carolina University, USA) and the outstanding aboriginal scholar Lorina Barker (University of New England, NSW). Nēpia has been working on various articles and book chapters including an international piece on Indigenous Legal History in the 19th Century, Indigenous Ethics in Historical Scholarship, Memory and the Problems of Democracy in Oral History, and a chapter on Māori Legal Systems and Makutu for the Native American and Indigenous Studies Journal. He is also beginning work on a history of indigenous martial arts in Aotearoa and the Pacific, and will present on aspects of this research in conferences in North America in late 2015. In October, Nēpia is facilitating a Māori Oral History Methods and Theory Workshop as part of the Waikato History Unit and co-hosting a symposium on Māori leadership and history in the LDS church with Dr Robert Joseph (Waikato Law School). He continues to serve on various local, national, and international committees.

Dr Rowland Weston has just finished guest editing a special double issue of Nineteenth-Century Prose on the English philosopher, historian and novelist William Godwin in Nineteenth-Century Prose, Vol. 41, Nos 1/2 (Spring/Fall 2014).

Dr Cathy Coleborne was promoted to full Professor at the end of 2013, and is currently the Associate Dean Graduate and Postgraduate for the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. She has a new book forthcoming with Manchester University Press, Insanity, Identity and Empire. Together with Associate Professor Katie Pickles (Canterbury) she has co-edited New Zealand’s Empire, also forthcoming with Manchester University Press. Cathy is planning a new volume of essays with contributors focused on ‘Mad’ Histories in Aotearoa New Zealand. Most significantly perhaps she continues her project about colonial mobility and its regulation, hoping to embark on a history of vagrancy law in New Zealand and the prosecution of vagrancy using mobility as a framework of inquiry. She has also been teaching undergraduate students Trans-Tasman and Pacific history, Histories of the family, sex, marriage and death (not necessarily in that order), and Digital Histories.

Theses in progress 


Joanne Bishop, ‘The role of medicinal plants in New Zealand’s settler medical culture, 1850s-1920s.’

Blair Nicholson, ‘“Lasers flared and crisscrossed, and all of the teddy bears fell dead”: A Literary and Cultural History of Military Science Fiction and the United States’ War in Vietnam’

Philippa Ulenberg, ‘Music and Culture in Post-war New Zealand: The Cambridge Music School’

Mark Smith, ‘Using the Past: Learning Histories, Public Histories, and Possibilities’

Karen Buckley, ‘A History of Public Narratives and Representations of Sport in the Waikato’

Simon Dench, ‘Prospects and Intentions: A Spatial History of Imagining the Waikato, 1800-1920’

Maree Dawson, ‘Puerperal Insanity, Ethnicity and Class in the Auckland Mental Hospital, 1860-1900’


Courtenay Rayes,‘Invasive Organisms: Ship-worms in New Zealand’

Annette Bainbridge, ‘Cultivating Gardens, Cultivating Friendships: Gardening Cultures in Colonial Canterbury’

Colin Barrett-Hogg, ‘American-New Zealand Ecological Exchanges’

Nicola Lemberg, ‘Gold Rush Literature in Comparative Perspective’