history, teaching

Everything* you ever wanted to know about the Treaty of Waitangi but were too scared/angry/oh-god-make-it-go-away to ask.

* Ok, maybe not Everything but it’s a start.

This is a post in response to some of the recent misinformation and ignorance that I’ve seen online and in the papers. If you’ve come through the New Zealand education system in the last 10 years you would definitely have learned something about the Treaty, but what and how you learned is sadly dependent on where you learned it and who taught it. If you came through the education system last century or are new to New Zealand, you might not have ever encountered the Treaty of Waitangi in an academic setting, and what you know (or think you know) is therefore shaped by the media and politicians.

I would like for that to change.

I believe everyone in New Zealand should know about, and engage in discussion around, the Treaty.

It’s interesting, it’s necessary, it’s ours. Continue reading “Everything* you ever wanted to know about the Treaty of Waitangi but were too scared/angry/oh-god-make-it-go-away to ask.”

history, life, Personal

A Sense of Place and how it grounds us.


A feeling that you belong somewhere makes a big difference to how you walk in the world. This sense of place can be varied but connects for me to the Māori concept of tūrangawaewae – the place where you stand, where your roots are, the place that empowers you.

I’ve lived in London and Wellington but my home, my tūrangawaewae, is Auckland. I miss Wellington, especially when I visit. I miss catching the cable car to work and the coffee at Astoria, where I was a regular. I miss the kind of people I met there, people who knew what it was like to be a new stranger in town and who took pains to welcome you in. But when I visit, I don’t feel that same connection that I do up here.  Not to all of Auckland, but Central and West Auckland is where I grew up. It’s where I raise my children. The sight of Rangitoto across the water centres me. Looking at the cityscape coming into town via the Rosebank causeway makes me happy in a way that even the terrible traffic can’t quite diminish. The people and community in Grey Lynn feels familiar and safe. Continue reading “A Sense of Place and how it grounds us.”

history, teaching

History and Identity and how we shape both of them.

Something that comes up in my history classes quite regularly is the concept of identity – national identity, personal identity, and how history shapes both of those things. We talk about the significance of events relative to individuals – who is affected? Who is left out? Why is it a significant event for some and not for others?

Our past shapes us. Even the most historically unsavvy person likely agrees with this to an extent. What is less clear to most is how current social narratives shape the history we tell ourselves, and how that reflects our identities back to us – warped, slightly twisted, or our best sides, filtered through the best Insta-ready looks. Continue reading “History and Identity and how we shape both of them.”

history, teaching

Teaching history, changing lives

I was proud to write this guest blog for my friend Elizabeth Cox. Having just spent three days at a Social Science teachers’ conference thinking about these same things, it seemed appropriate to share on my own page.

Bay Heritage Consultants Wellington

Today we are publishing a thoughtful piece by passionate history teacher Clementine Fraser, Head of History at Avondale College, Auckland, about her experience of opening young people’s eyes to the connections between their past and their present reality.  She also demonstrates the benefits of visiting the places where events really happened, reminding us of the need to treasure these places and to facilitate opportunities for school children to visit them.

I’ve always loved history. When I was a child, books about the past were always my favourite. For much of my childhood I alternated between wanting to be an archaeologist or a librarian. The past seemed to me to be a magical place full of interesting people, astonishing customs, and cool artefacts.

I didn’t, however, think much of New Zealand history.

This is odd because I loved Maori legends and was part of the kapa haka at Intermediate School, and the Howick…

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A Dinner Party of Historical Heroes

What if you invited Elizabeth I and Martin Luther King Jr. to dinner, and they didn’t get along? I was thinking about this after one of those ‘who would you invite to dinner if you could have anyone you wanted?’ things. My first instinct for those is always to invite my favourite movie stars – but what if they just talked to each other and laughed at in-jokes all night? No fun. And have you seen the great Late Night with Seth Meyers clip where Jon Snow from Game of Thrones is a very awkward dinner guest? (if you haven’t it’s hilarious: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BabsgCQhpu4) Even fictional characters can’t guarantee you a good time.


I started thinking about how I could make this work. I decided to have two dinners (after all, my imagination-my rules right?). Dinner one – historical heroes. Dinner two – fiction favourites.  Ten people on each list. Each person has to be someone I’d want to have a conversation with, and the goal is to arrange a dinner party where everyone would have fun and get along, but also stand out as someone unique with something different to offer. Easy, right?


I’m going to start in this blog with my Guest list for Historical Heroes Continue reading “A Dinner Party of Historical Heroes”