Welcome to History

Make the past your future

Why Study the Past?

History is the study of what happened in the past. It is also the study of how we can know what happened in the past. It therefore involves critical enquiry into the nature and status of historical evidence, and into the ways in which the past may be reconstructed. Historians study the past to understand the complexities of the present.

Most New Zealanders are aware of the need to explore the hitherto "hidden history" which has been revealed in cases before the Waitangi Tribunal. Others seek information on the cultural and institutional backgrounds of their ancestors who migrated to New Zealand. The conflicts occurring in many parts of the globe cannot be explained or understood without an historical context. For all these reasons, there is currently an immense interest in the past, and our programme offerings aim to address that.

What Use is History?

Historical study emphasizes such skills as: formulating research questions, locating and critically analysing source materials, and communicating in clear and effective ways the results of research. These skills are relevant to careers in the media, education, business and administration, as well as professional work as an historian. Certain history papers form part of programmes in New Zealand Studies, Labour and Trade Union Studies, Te Tohu Paetahi, American Studies, and Communication Studies. In addition, students in Law, Management, Science, Māori and Pacific Development and Education often include one or more History papers in their programmes of study. Historical Methodology also counts as Methodology paper for BSocSc requirements.

Are There Job Prospects?

As well as creating a contemporary "information explosion", modern technology has also made the residues of the distant past more widely available, and there is an increasing demand for people with intellectual skills to make sense of the materials that other human beings have left behind. In larger societies overseas the archives are massive, and historians who acquire linguistic and professional qualifications will have international opportunities. With the recent growth of "public history" or "applied history" in New Zealand, a number of historians are now employed on a contract basis to research the history of organisations, issues and policies. Career opportunities are considerable, in media, public service, tourism and heritage and, particularly, policy analysis.


New Zealand Journal of Public History - a peer-reviewed electronic journal devoted to the discussion, debate and dissemination of ideas about the practice of public history in Aotearoa New Zealand.