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Edited by Annabel Cooper, Lachy Paterson and Angela Wanhalla

Lives of Colonial Objects cover imageThe book

The Lives of Colonial Objects is a sumptuously illustrated and highly readable book about things, and the stories that unfold when we start to investigate them.

In this collection of 50 essays the authors, including historians, archivists, curators and Māori scholars, have each chosen an object from New Zealand's colonial past, and their examinations open up our history in astonishingly varied ways.

Some are treasured family possessions such as a kahu kiwi, a music album or a grandmother's travel diary, and their stories have come down through families. Some, like the tauihu of a Māori waka, a Samoan kilikiti bat or a flying boat, are housed in museums.

Others – a cannon, a cottage and a country road – inhabit public spaces but they too turn out to have unexpected histories. Things invite us into the past through their tangible, tactile and immediate presence: in this collection they serve as 50 paths into New Zealand's colonial history.

While each chapter is the story of a particular object, The Lives of Colonial Objects as a whole informs and enriches the colonial history of Aotearoa New Zealand.

The editors

ANNABEL COOPER is Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Gender and Social Work at the University of Otago. Her research covers a range of subjects in New Zealand cultural history. Her edition of Mary Lee's The Not So Poor and her contributions to Sites of Gender: Women, men and modernity in southern Dunedin explored gender, place and poverty in nineteenth-century New Zealand, and she has written further about place in articles on films, suburbs and settler masculinity. At present she is researching cultural memory and colonial conflict, and writing about screen narratives of the New Zealand Wars.

LACHY PATERSON is a professor at Te Tumu: School of Māori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies, and a member of the Centre for Research on Colonial Culture at the University of Otago. His research interests focus on post-contact Māori history, particularly through the use of Māori-language sources. A primary research theme is print and textual culture; to date he has published the only monograph on Māori-language newspapers, Colonial Discourses: Niupepa Māori 1855–1863.

ANGELA WANHALLA is a professor in the History programme at the University of Otago and researches the interconnected histories of race, intimacy and colonialism in New Zealand history. Her most recent book is Matters of the Heart: A history of interracial marriage in New Zealand (Auckland University Press, 2013), which won the Ernest Scott Prize for best book in Australian and New Zealand history in 2014.


Lucy Mackintosh, Paora Tapsell, Kelvin Day, Sydney J. Shep, David Haines, Jonathan West, Lynette Townsend, F. Jane Teal, Charlotte Macdonald, Catherine Bishop, Kirstine Moffat, Kate Stevens, Jill Haley, Alison Clarke, Wiremu Kīngi, Ruth Harvey, Migoto Eria, Paerau Warbrick, Megan Wells, Rosi Crane, Barbara Brookes, Rebecca Rice, Claire Regnault, Megan Potiki, Steve Austin, Tony Ballantyne, Helen Leach, Kerry Hines, Michael Fitzgerald, Jane Stafford, Roger Blackley, Damian Skinner, Chanel Clarke and Catherine Smith, Ewan Morris, Katie Pickles, Peter Hodder, Rebecca Priestley, Michael J. Stevens, Kate Hunter, Chris Brickell, Genevieve de Pont, Jane McCabe, Safua Akeli, Felicity Barnes, Mark Stocker, Kristyn Harman, Michael Findlay and Gerry Barton, Conal McCarthy and Jonathan Mané-Wheoki

Publication details

Paperback with wide flaps, full colour, 255 x 225 mm, 376 pages, ISBN 978 1 927322 02 4, $50

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