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Angela Wanhalla

Lecture theatre

Angela WanhallaDr Angela Wanhalla

Raised in a house full of books and aware of her whakapapa, lecturer Angela Wanhalla knew she'd follow a history path.

"Dad was always interested in history and I knew where I came from, so history became part of the trajectory."

Of Ngāi Tahu descent (Taumutu and Otakou), Angela grew up in the small Canterbury town of Rolleston.

While the subject history was dead certain, Angela took time to fine-tune her specific fields of interest. For her first degree - a BA(Hons) from the University Canterbury - she took papers in Māori history, education, sociology and anthropology, before choosing feminist history for her honours project and MA.

Today, Angela specialises in the histories of cultural encounter in New Zealand's colonial past, with a focus on the history of interracial relationships and intermarriage in New Zealand. She's writing a book based on her PhD, which explored the history of interracial marriage between 1830 and 1940 in a community based at the Taieri Native Reserve.

With postdoctoral studies under her belt (she researched intermarriage in the Canadian prairies at the University of Saskatchewan), Angela's teaching focus at Otago is comparative indigenous histories. This includes teaching papers that introduce students to New Zealand history from a comparative perspective, and take a biographical approach to Māori history.

Dry facts it's not - history is about people's interaction with the world around them, she says.

"It's about reviving and reconstructing communities and looking at personal experiences."