RE: Massey’s 2014-15 update

Another awesome regional profile for today’s readers, this time we’re recognizing Massey University’s History Programme 2014-2015

The Massey University History programme has been very active in the past year. Peter Lineham has overseen a comprehensive review of the History Curriculum, which is still in progress. Under the auspices of the W.H. Oliver Humanities Research Academy, the School of Humanities, of which the history programme is a part, has hosted numerous speakers and organised a number of conferences. With the earthquake strengthening and refurbishing work nearly completed, history staff, and the School of Humanities are anticipating moving back to Massey University’s Old Main Building (now known as the Sir Geoffrey Peren Building) during November and December.


Kerry Taylor, Peter Meihana, Rachael Bell and Michael Belgrave played a leading role in organising the Treaty on the Ground conference, which was held in recognition of the 175th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. The conference was held at Auckland Museum on July 6 and 7 2015, with Massey University’s Albany Campus hosting a Colloquium on July 8. The conference generated lively discussion around issues related to the treaty. It is planned to publish a book based on the papers delivered at the conference.

Kirsty Carpenter, assisted by Gillian Tasker, Heritage Services Leader, Wanganui District Library, organised a lecture series by past and present Massey postgraduate students and Emeritus Professor Margaret Tennant which was held at the Alexander Heritage and Research Library, Whanganui and, on one occasion, at St Paul’s memorial church, between May and July 2015. Most of the talks had connections to Whanganui: Bill Greenwood discussed the beginnings of Rugby League in Whanganui; Liz Ward spoke about the New Zealand Legion in Whanganui during the 1930s, Huia Kirk spoke about the Putiki Mission Station and David Littlewood discussed the experiences of some Whanganui men who appeared before Military Service Boards.

Andrew Brown and John Griffiths organised a seminar ‘Citizenship: Past and Present’ which was held at Massey University’s Manawatu Campus on Friday, August 28. The papers, which were given by members of the History, Classics and Politics programmes, engaged with the notion of ‘21st Century Citizenship’, which is one of Massey University’s five main research areas.

On Friday, August 14, the History programme hosted 200 Year 13 History Students and their teachers at the Year 13 History Seminar. Massey University has run this seminar for more than 20 years and it is a very popular event among students and teachers. This year’s seminar focused on the Year 13 Scholarship topic ‘Historical Relationships’. Glyn Harper spoke about changing interpretations of Gallipoli, Michael Belgrave discussed the recent Waitangi Tribunal report on the Treaty of Waitangi and Peter Lineham evaluated the historical relationship between Maori and Christianity.

During October and November 2014 Karen Jillings, Andrew Brown, Chris van der Krogt and Amanda McVitty delivered a four-part seminar programme on the Medieval World to the University of the Third Age. The series was hosted by All Saints Church and attracted good attendances.


Glyn Harper, Professor of War Studies at Massey, joined the history programme in 2015. He and James Watson have been based at the Hokowhitu Campus this year where they are working on the Centenary History Programme of World War One, a collaborative project between Massey University, the Returned and Services Association, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage and the New Zealand Defence Force. On top of his responsibilities as Massey Project Manager for the Centenary History Programme, Glyn Harper also found time to write the book Johnny Enzed: The New Zealand Soldier in the First World War 1914-1918 which was launched at the Awapuni Racecourse in Palmerston North on August 7. The venue for the launch was a training camp for soldiers during World War One. Another book in this series New Zealand’s First World War Heritage by Tim Shoebridge and Imelda Bargas was launched in April 2015. Two other members of the Massey History programme are presently working on books for this series. James Watson is writing a book on the home front in New Zealand during World War One and Adam Claasen is writing a book on the Air War in World War One. Another member of the history programme, David Littlewood, assisted by co-editors James Watson and John Crawford, is editing the proceedings of the 2014 conference People, Personalities and Leaders and it is intended that this will be published in 2016.

The 2014-2015 period has seen a number of books published by history programme staff. Kirsty Carpenter prepared and edited a critical edition of Madame de Souza’s novel Eugénie et Mathilde which was published by the United Kingdom based Modern Humanities Research Association (MHRA) as part of their series MHRA Critical Texts in 2014. John Griffiths published his book Imperial Culture in Antipodean Cities, 1880-1939 as part of Palgrave MacMillan’s Britain and the World series and Geoff Watson was one of the editors of, and a contributor to Tom Johnson, Andy Martin, Geoff Watson and Margot Butcher (eds.) Legends in Black: New Zealand Rugby Greats on Why We Win, which was published by Penguin in 2014. Emeritus Professor Margaret Tennant’s commissioned history of the New Zealand Red Cross, Across the Street, Across the World. A History of the Red Cross in New Zealand 1915-2015 has now been published and a parliamentary function in recognition of the book and the Centenary of the New Zealand Red Cross will be held in October 2015.

The Massey University History Programme also noted, with deep sadness, the passing of Bill Oliver in September 2015. Bill came to Massey University as the foundation Professor of History in 1964 and played a leading role in the development of history at Massey and, indeed, a significant role in the evolution of the University itself, his wise counsel being greatly valued by Massey’s leaders. During his time at Massey he, along with Bridget Williams, edited the Oxford History of New Zealand, a landmark work of New Zealand social history. In recognition of his contribution to the humanities in Massey University and New Zealand, the School of Humanities established the W.H. Oliver Lecture in 2007 and, in 2013, the W.H. Oliver Humanities Research Academy to promote research in the arts.

Thanks to Geoff Watson for compiling the report.