Seminar: Greg Ryan and Geoff Watson, ‘Continuity and Change: Sport and the New Zealanders c. 1840 to the present’

Sport, Richard Holt suggested, generates a series of ‘stories we tell ourselves about ourselves’. Sport occupies a prominent place in New Zealand life. Sporting occasions feature prominently in the collective memory of New Zealanders and have been strongly linked to a still evolving national identity. Historically, sport has been presented as a positive force in New Zealand society, one which develops good citizens, unites all social classes and has fostered harmony between different ethnicities, particularly Maori and Pakeha.  In the New Zealand context, small towns and rural areas have for some, played a particularly significant role in the construction and folklore of sport in New Zealand; and it has also been very important in shaping urban communities and reinforcing provincial identities.  In reflecting on the writing ofSport and the New Zealanders, this talk investigates the extent to which, historically speaking such claims can be justified. It also asks how and why has sport evolved over time and to what extent, if at all, has the place of sport changed in New Zealand society. Why have New Zealanders’ chosen to place such a significant material and emotional investment in sport?  Why have governments, both local and national, chosen to invest so significantly in sport? 

Greg Ryan is a Professor in the Faculty of Environment, Society & Design and Proctor at Lincoln University. As well as his publications on both sport and alcohol, he is Special Projects Editor for the International Journal of the History of Sport.

Geoff Watson is a Senior Lecturer in History in the School of Humanities at Massey University, Palmerston North. He has written and contributed to many books and articles on sport in New Zealand including Sporting Foundations of New Zealand Indians (2012), and Sport Development in Action: Plan, Programme and Practice (2019).

Venue:            Old Kirk 406 (F L W Wood Seminar Room)

Date:               Friday, 5 April 2019

Time:              12:10pm to 1:30pm

For more information: Contact Dr Alexander Maxwell (; 04 463 6753).