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Our Projects

Centre members are engaged in a range of collaborative projects supported by external funders. 

Current Projects

A World History of Bluff

Focusing on the port town of Bluff, this archival-based project seeks to seeks to re-shape thinking about New Zealand’s economic development and race relations over the period 1800-2000. Funded by a Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden Fast-Start Grant, the project is led by Dr. Michael Stevens and also involves several postgraduate students who are working on aspects of New Zealand's maritime history. 

Constant Coconuts

Coconuts provide food, drink, medicines, cosmetics, fuel and fibre. Yet despite its commonness, no commodity history of the coconut exists. Supported by a Royal Society of New Zealand Standard Marsden Grant, Professor Judy Bennett and Dr. Kate Stevens are investigating how products from the ‘nut’ became commodities from 1840 onwards, including how production and consumption of coconuts affected individual communities and their culture, economies and environment within the Pacific and beyond.

Global Dunedin

This collaborative public engagement project examines Dunedin's historical development and its changing economy, social life, and cultural pattern. The project team of Professor Tony Ballantyne, Professor Angela McCarthy, Associate Professor Angela Wanhalla and Dr. Jane McCabe are interested in how the city has changed over time and the ways in which its pasts have shaped its current and future prospects. It disseminates reflections on the city’s history and life here now through its blog, Facebook page and Twitter account. 

The Politics of Intimacy

Led by Associate Professor Angela Wanhalla, this five-year archival-based project aims to trace the evolution in the practice, politics and meaning of marriage in New Zealand from the nineteenth century and up to the present day. It is supported by a prestigious Rutherford Discovery Fellowship that funds several postgraduate scholarships on projects exploring the emotional labour of marriage, Māori marriage, and marriage law reform.

Splitting up the farm?

In her Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden Fast-Start project, Dr. Jane McCabe is investigating the connection between the ideology of family inheritance and care for the land in New Zealand across cultures and generations. The project widens the definition of a “farming family” to include different ethnicities, family formations and land uses and seeks to ascertain the practices and problems of intergenerational land transfer in two districts in New Zealand – Hokianga in the north of the North Island, and Taieri in the south of the South Island. What does guardianship of the land mean to different cultures in these districts, and how has this shaped the landscapes and waterways of Aotearoa?

Completed Projects

He Reo Wāhine

This project, a collaboration between Lachy Paterson and Angela Wanhalla, sought to illuminate the extent and nature of Māori women's writing in the colonial period. Supported by a University of Otago Summer Scholarship, this archive-based project uncovered over 500 examples of women's writing across a number of genres, including letters, petitions, autobiography and creative expression. A key outcome of the project is a co-written book, He Reo Wāhine: Māori Women's Voices from the Nineteenth Century (Auckland University Press, 2017).

Mining Marsden 

In this collaborative project, the Centre worked with the University of Otago Library to create the Marsden Online Archive to provide the metadata and a platform to make the letters and journals of Christian Missionary Society leaders and workers in the Hocken Collections available to a wide range of communities and researchers.