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Otago academic’s book wins Australasia’s most prestigious history award

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Friday 11 July 2014 4:09pm

Dr Angela Wanhalla
Dr Angela Wanhalla
Department of History and Art History

A ground-breaking study of interracial relationships in New Zealand has won University of Otago history senior lecturer Dr Angela Wanhalla the 2014 Ernest Scott Prize for history.

Dr Wanhalla’s book Matters of the Heart: A History of Interracial Marriage in New Zealand won the prize, which is given annually to the book judged to be the most distinguished contribution to the history of Australia or New Zealand or to the history of colonisation.

The prize was awarded last night at the Australian Historical Association Conference in Brisbane and is worth approximately $13,000.

Dr Wanhalla says she feels extremely honoured to be awarded the Ernest Scott Prize and to join such an illustrious list of past winners.

“While this is an individual award, I wish to acknowledge and thank the many people who supported my research, particularly my colleagues in the Department of History at the University of Otago, the Royal Society of New Zealand, which funded my work, and Auckland University Press for producing such a beautiful book.

Matters of the HeartMatters of the Heart: A History of Interracial Marriage in New Zealand

I also wish to acknowledge my family, particularly my parents who were the inspiration for Matters of the Heart so I thank the judges of the Ernest Scott Prize for honouring them, as well as the many other couples who feature in the book, in this way.”

The judges described Dr Wanhalla’s book as a “study of intimacy [that] makes an important contribution to overturning simplistic paradigms of race relations on the frontier and beyond.” They also commended the “beautifully written, clearly structured” book and praised Wanhalla for wearing “her extensive scholarship lightly so the reader has the pleasure of reading fascinating personal stories combined with sharp analysis.

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