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History awards to reveal New Zealand’s past

Projects ranging from the Manapouri Hydro Project and the Māori Parliament to a biography of Maurice Shadbolt and the influence of Dr Robert Felkin in Havelock North are amongst those gaining recognition in this year’s New Zealand History Trust Fund Awards.

Nine New Zealanders have gained awards with two others going to an Australian researcher and another to a German researcher, Peter Mesenhoeller, who will visit here in February and March to retrace the footsteps of explorer Ernst Dieffenbach.

“We had a good range of applications for this year’s awards which always makes selection difficult,” says Neill Atkinson Ministry for Culture and Heritage Chief Historian. “Women feature prominently this time and with two overseas researchers in the mix we can expect some interesting insights into our past.

“Mesenhoeller’s visit here will help shed new light on paintings of New Zealand made by Dieffenbach in 1841 which have recently been acquired by a museum in Cologne. This is an exciting opportunity for an international scholar to expand our knowledge of this key figure in New Zealand’s early history.

“Australian Dr Catherine Bishop is looking at the role of women in commerce in the 1840s and 1850s, as a number were shopkeepers and the main income earner. Other women to be studied by award recipients include Charlotte Badger, regarded as New Zealand’s first female Pakeha inhabitant, and writer, botanist and prison reformer Blanche Baughan.

“The grant to Mark Derby will enable him to complete his book Mautini - the Hidden History of Mt Eden Prison which both delves into its structure as a Category 1 listed historic place and the nationally significant events that have taken place there since 1856,” Neill Atkinson says.

Administered by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage the trust fund provides financial assistance to people whose projects will significantly enhance the understanding of New Zealand’s past.

Funding can be used in a variety of ways including enabling historians to work fulltime on a project, paying for research and writing costs and for travel costs associated with research.

The full list of 2016 recipients and their funding is:

• Jennifer Ashton, The Histories of Charlotte Badger, $9,500

• Rosemary Baird, Stories from the Manapouri Hydro Project,$11,500

• Catherine Bishop, Commerce was a Woman, $12,000

• Mark Derby, Mautini – the Hidden History of Mt Eden Prison, $12,000

• Basil Keane, The Maori Parliament, Kotahitanga from 1892-1902, $12,000

• Carol Markwell, Blanche Baughan, a biography, $12,000

• Peter Mesenhoeller, Historic landscapes and differing perceptions: Ernst Dieffenbach’s album ‘Sketches and Views from New Zealand 1841’, $8500

• Philip Norman, History of composition in New Zealand, $12,000

• Ken Ross, New Zealand prime ministerial diplomacy since 1945, $12,000

• Lucy Treep, Biography of Maurice Shadbolt, $10,762

• Georgina White, The delusions of Dr Felkin, $10,110

More information about the awards is on the Ministry for Culture and Heritage website at:

Updated on 27th January 2016