A New Zeal for History: Public History in New Zealand

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Alex Trapeznik


Public history is still a relatively unknown term in New Zealand, an island nation in the southwest pacific with a population of around 4.6 million people. Until the late 1980s it was rare for professional historians to practise their profession outside the academy. Most of the few who did were public servants attached to institutions such as the Department of Internal Affairs or the major museums. Expanding work opportunities in the institutional, museum and historic heritage sectors have, however, fostered an increase in the number of freelance historians, some of whom are now participating in the identification, assessment, interpretation and management of New Zealand’s historic places.

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Author Biography

Alex Trapeznik, University of Otago

Alex Trapeznik is Associate Professor of History at the University of Otago, New Zealand. His research focuses on historical and cultural heritage management issues in New Zealand and globally. He is the editor of Common Ground? Heritage and Public Places in New Zealand (2000), a key text that helped establish public history as a discipline in New Zealand and co-editor of What is Public History Globally? (2019) a ground-breaking text that takes a comprehensive look at public history throughout the world.