New Zealanders at War: Writing War

Jul 2015

The centenary of World War I has led to a wealth of writing and historical research. Remembering the sacrifice of a generation of New Zealanders, we reflect on the realities of war, the myths, the aftermath and impact on those left at home.

The centenary has also led to burgeoning interest in the role of war in our society, from warfare on New Zealand soil to more recent conflicts, such as Vietnam and the conflicts we are joining even today.

New Zealanders at War: Writing War will cover all aspects of writing about war: research, the resources available, the ethics and the issues. With leading writers of New Zealand history, it will include sessions on writing military history, social history, the experience of Māori and Pacific Island people, war in fiction, drama and art, writing about war for children, and writing about the things we might prefer to forget.

Speakers include leading international military historian Chris Pugsley and acclaimed novelist Patricia Grace,  along with Damien Fenton from Massey University, Gavin McLean from the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, historian and archaeologist David Veart, Puawai Cairns from Te Papa, art historian and author Jenny Haworth, historian Megan Hutching, peace activist and author Maire Leadbeater, social historian Te Awhina Arahanga and publishers.

The annual Michael King Writers’ Centre residential workshop has become an important opportunity for New Zealand writers. Designed especially for experienced writers to hone their craft, it is a high-level, intensive symposium style seminar featuring some of the best talent in the country.

This is the seventh residential workshop in the annual series. Places will be limited.

When:  Saturday October 24 to Monday October 26, 2015 (Labour weekend)
Location:   Vaughan Park Retreat and Conference Centre, 1043 Beach Road, Long Bay,  Auckland 0630 –

Workshop including meals and single accommodation $595 incl GST

Workshop including meals, shared twin accommodation, $550 incl GST

 A 50% non-refundable deposit will be required once your application is accepted and full payment will be required before the workshop starts.          

Download draft programme

For information about Vaughan Park and its location, please visit the Vaughan Park website, here. Vaughan Park is an Anglican retreat. The facilities are modest, but comfortable. There are 18 single and 10 twin share rooms. Rooms are within four lodges and an accommodation wing. Each room opens to a courtyard or garden and has a desk, comfortable chair, hand basin and wardrobe. The lodges also provide a lounge, tea/coffee making facilities and quality shared bathroom facilities. 

Once your application has been accepted, we will ask for details such as special food requirements and provide information about transport options.

A shuttle bus will be available to take participants from Auckland Airport to Vaughan Park, departing at 11.45 am on Saturday October 24. There will be a return trip to the airport, leaving Vaughan Park at 1.30 pm on Monday October 26.  The cost is $20 incl GST each way.

The Michael King Writers’ Centre is grateful for the support of Foundation North, which makes it possible to present the programme. 

 About the speakers

Dr Christopher Pugsley

Dr Chris Pugsley recently recently retired from his position as senior lecturer in War Studies at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, United Kingdom. A former New Zealand Infantry officer, he is an authority on New Zealanders at war. He is one of New Zealand’s foremost military historians, whose most recent work  A bloody road home: WWII and New Zealand’s Heroic Second Division (Penguin NZ, 2014) has been nominated for the Templer Medal in the UK for British and Commonwealth Military history and more recently for the Ernest Scott Award in Australia for New Zealand and Australian history. He has written numerous books on aspects of military history. Since his return to New Zealand he has been Historian Director of Te Papa's Gallipoli -The Scale of our War, working with Sir Richard Taylor's Weta Workshop. He has also worked on the recently-released Nga Tapuwae - Heritage Trails - Gallipoli mobile app.

 Damien Fenton

Dr Damien Fenton is a Senior Historian in War Studies at Massey University. He is currently Research Fellow in the College of Humanities & Social Sciences at Massey’s Wellington Campus. His interests include Australian and New Zealand military history and he has worked in this area as an academic and a public historian in both Australia and New Zealand. He has a PhD in military history at the University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra. He worked for the Australian Department of Veterans’ Affairs in Canberra and been a Senior Historian in the Ministry for Culture & Heritage. His latest publication is New Zealand and the First World War (Penguin, 2013) and he is writing New Zealand’s war against the Ottoman Turks, to be published in 2017. 

David Veart

David Veart is the descendant of an early military family. Trained as an anthropologist, he worked as a Department of Conservation historian and archaeologist for over twenty-five years. During that time he worked on and excavated many of Auckland's coastal defence fortifications. He belongs to the Auckland Heritage Committee of the Institute of Professional Engineers and has been appointed as a member of the Auckland Council's Heritage Advisory Panel. Veart is author of Hello Girls and Boys! A New Zealand Toy Story (AUP 2014), First Catch Your Weka: A Story of New Zealand Cooking (AUP, 2008) and Digging up the Past: Archaeology for the Young and Curious (AUP, 2011). He is currently working on a volume of war letters.

 Gavin McLean

Gavin McLean is Senior Historian in the Heritage Services Branch of the Ministry of Culture and Heritage. His areas of interest are maritime, military history, constitutional/politics, business, heritage, local history and publishing. He has written more than 30 books and numerous chapters, articles and exhibition catalogues. His books include the Penguin Book of New Zealanders at War (2009) with Ian McGibbon, the Penguin Book of New Zealand War Writing with Harry Rickets (due out in September 2015), Facing the Front: New Zealand's Enduring First World War (New Zealand Portrait Gallery) and The white ships : New Zealand’s First World War hospital ships (New Zealand Ship & Marine Society).

 Jenny Haworth

Jenny Haworth is well-known as both publisher and writer with a large number of books to her name, both fiction and non-fiction. Her three novels are all historical and she has written various non-fiction works including New Zealand Past and Present and the Art of War: New Zealand War artists in the Field 1939-45.. Her latest novel is called The Undone Years. Her fourth novel No Victors is about New Zealand troops in Italy in World War II.

Maire Leadbeater

Maire Leadbeater is a peace and human rights activist and writer. She was active in the Auckland East Timor Independence Committee until 2000, and she now represents the Indonesia Human Rights Committee as spokesperson. She has written many articles about West Papua and New Zealand government foreign policy. She wrote of Negligent Neighbour: New Zealand’s complicity in the invasion and occupation of Timor-Leste (Craig Potton, 2006) and her book Peace, Power & Politics How New Zealand became nuclear free was published by Otago University Press in 2013. She has also contributed book chapter to many publications.

Megan Hutching

Megan Hutching is a freelance historian, specialising in oral history. From 2000 until 2007, while working for the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, she recorded a series of interviews with New Zealand veterans of the Second World War, themed around the different campaigns and theatres of war, which were published by HarperCollins New Zealand in their ‘New Zealanders Remember ...’ series. The first was A Unique Sort of Battle: New Zealanders Remember Crete and the series culminated in 2007 with the sixth book, Last Line of Defence: New Zealanders Remember the War at Home. This long engagement with the Second World War did not lessen her interest in the history of women’s peace activism in New Zealand – she has published articles on women’s opposition to the First World War.

Patricia Grace

Patricia Grace is of Ngati Toa, Ngati Raukawa and Te Ati Awa descent. She is one of New Zealand's most distinguished novelists.  She has won many national and international awards, including the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, widely considered the most prestigious literary prize after the Nobel. In 2007, she was made a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to literature.  She was named as the Honoured New Zealand Writer at the Auckland Writers Festival in 2014. Her most recent novel is Chappie. Her acclaimed 2004 novel Tu is about the experiences of soldiers in the Maori Battalion in Italy in World War II. She has also written a non-fiction work Ned and Katina: A True Love Story about the Maori Battalion in Crete in WWII.

 Puawai Cairns

Puawai Cairns is Curator of Contemporary Māori Culture at Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand. She has spent the last two and a half years researching the stories of the several hundred Māori soldiers who served in the First World War, as part of the curatorial team of Te Papa’s major exhibition on World War I, Gallipoli: The Scale of our War. She has a long-standing research interest in the contemporary Māori world, the diversity of Māori activity over recent decades, and the potential for collecting objects relating to this period. Her iwi affiliation is Ngāti Pukenga, Ngāti Ranginui and Ngaiterangi.

Te Awhina Arahanga

Te Awhina Arahanga comes from Christchurch and has had extensive experience as a writer and researcher for heritage and historical projects, natural history, Taonga Maori, for developing exhibitions and interpretation for museums. She specialises in oral histories, taonga conservation, archaeology and exhibitions research. She is also a poet and a writer of fiction and non-fiction, including social history . Her iwi affiliations are Ngati Tuwharetoa, Te Ati Haunui A Paparangi, Ngati Hauiti ki Rata, Rapuwai, Waitaha, Ngati Mamoe and Ngai Tahu.