Professor Charlotte Macdonald
Professor of History at Victoria University of Wellington.
Research interests in the 19th century British Empire and its 20th-century legacies, New Zealand history.
Recent publications include ‘The First World War and the Making of Colonial Memory’, Journal of New Zealand Literature, 33: 2 (2015); Antoinette Burton and Isabel Hofmeyr, Ten Books that Shaped the British Empire (2014); Annabel Cooper, Lachy Paterson and Angela Wanhalla, ed, The Lives of Colonial Objects (2015); Victoria Haskins and Claire Lowrie, ed, Colonization and Domestic Service (2014); 'Body and Self', Womens History Review, 22: 2 (2013); Strong, Beautiful and Modern (2011); 'Between Religion and Empire', Journal of the Canadian Historical Association/Revue de la Societe Historique du Canada, 19: 2 (2008); Women Writing Home (2006). Earlier publications include 'My Hand Will Write What My Heart Dictates' (with Frances Porter, 1995); A Woman of Good Character (1990); The Book of New Zealand Women/Ko Kui Ma te Kaupapa (ed with Merimeri Penfold and Bridget Williams, 1991) and two volumes edited with Barbara Brookes and Margaret Tennant, Women in History and Women in History 2 (1986, 1992).
She is a Council Member of the New Zealand Historical Association and the Archives and Records Association of New Zealand; Associate editor of the New Zealand Journal of History.
Dr Rebecca Lenihan
Post-Doctoral Fellow in the History Programme at Victoria University of Wellington
Rebecca’s research background is in 19th and early 20th Century New Zealand and Scottish history, with a focus on migration. Her PhD dissertation profiled New Zealand’s Scottish immigrants arriving between 1840 and 1920, analyzing a database of 6,612 migrants of Scottish birth to examine place of origin and of settlement, age, gender, marital status, and occupation. Between 2011 and 2013 she was a post-doctoral fellow with the Historical Data Unit at the University of Guelph, collaborating with the Centre for Scottish Studies on a longitudinal database of Scottish migration, tracing individuals from the 1871 census of Scotland to the 1880/1 censuses of the US, Canada, England and Wales, and Scotland.
Recent publications include:
John completed his VUW MA thesis, 'Soldiers & Colonists: Imperial Soldiers as Settlers in Nineteenth-Century New Zealand' in 2017.
The approximately 18,000 imperial troops who arrived in New Zealand with the British regiments between 1840 and 1870 as garrison and combat troops, did not do so by choice. However, for the more than 3,600 non-commissioned officers and rank and file soldiers who subsequently discharged from the army in New Zealand, and the unknown but significant number of officers who retired in the colony, it was their decision to stay and build civilian lives as soldier settlers in the colony. This thesis investigates three key themes in the histories of soldiers who became settlers: land, familial relationships, and livelihood. In doing so, the study develops an important area of settler colonialism in New Zealand history. Discussion covers the period from the first arrival of soldiers in the 1840s through to the early twentieth century – incorporating the span of the soldier settlers’ lifetimes. The study focuses on selected aspects of the history of nineteenth-century war and settlement.
Land is examined through analysis of government statutes and reports, reminiscences, letters, and newspapers, the thesis showing how and why soldier settlers were assisted on to confiscated and alienated Māori land under the Waste Lands and New Zealand Settlement Acts. Attention is also paid to documenting the soldier settlers’ experiences of this process and its problems. Further, it discusses some of the New Zealand settlements in which military land grants were concentrated. It also situates such military settlement practices in the context of the wider British Empire.
The place of women, children, and the regimental family in the soldier settlers’ New Zealand lives is also considered. This history is explored through journals, reminiscences, biography and newspapers, and contextualised via imperial and military histories. How and where men from the emphatically male sphere of the British Army met and married women during service in New Zealand is examined, as are the contexts in which they lived their married lives. Also discussed are the contrasting military and colonial policies towards women and marriage, and how these were experienced by soldier settlers and their families.
Lastly, the livelihood of soldier settlers is explored – the thesis investigating what sort of civilian lives soldier settlers experienced and how they made a living for themselves and their families. Utilising newspapers, reminiscences, biography, and government records the diversity of work army veterans undertook in the colony is uncovered. Notable trends include continued military-style roles and community leadership. The failed farming enterprise is also emphasised. Going further, it offers analysis of the later years of life and the different experiences of soldier settlers in their twilight years, particularly for those with and without family networks in the colony. The thesis challenges the separation between ‘war’ and ‘settlement’ by focusing on a group whose history spanned both sides of the nineteenth-century world of colony and empire.
This thesis explores the material, cultural, and political significance of the Enfield rifle in the British Empire from c. 1850 to 1870. Unravelling the weapon’s links with imperial ideology and violence, it argues that the Enfield helped to produce discourses of race, gender, and civilisation during this era. Furthermore, it makes the case that these discourses shaped the ways in which Britons viewed the Enfield and influenced how they saw themselves. The rifle is best known for its well-chronicled role in the 1857 Indian Rebellion where it had a significant impact on British understandings of the conflict. While acknowledging the Indian context, this thesis aims to draw the Enfield deeper into debates about British imperial culture, comparing the rifle’s physical and discursive influence across a range of imperial spaces.
The Enfield rifle was one of the most important weapons of the nineteenth century. The product of a revolution in rifle technology, it amazed the British public and military with its accuracy and range. The weapon’s invention prompted the introduction of large scale factory production techniques in Britain. It also stimulated a massive rethinking of military tactics and was a central component of the militarisation of British society during the 1850s and 1860s. The Enfield then had extensive use in conflicts including the Crimean War, the Indian Rebellion, the New Zealand Wars, and the American Civil War. It also found a home in the hands of the burgeoning volunteer movements of Britain and New Zealand.
Through its use in these arenas, the Enfield had a considerable physical impact on the British Empire, but it had even greater discursive significance. During the 1850s and 1860s, discussions about the Enfield’s invention, production, and usage promoted ideas of rationality, modern science, and individualism. After the 1857 Indian Rebellion, the rifle came to epitomise British technological might and racial ‘superiority’ in the minds of Victorians. The Volunteer Force, established in 1859, embraced the Enfield as its weapon of choice and conceived of it as a weapon that embodied the Force’s values of skill, education and respectability. In the New Zealand Wars however, the rifle failed to bring the decisive victories many settlers expected and they began to disparage the weapon as a result. Nevertheless, the Enfield was still deeply implicated in the contested process of colonisation in New Zealand. Ultimately, the Enfield’s role in these events transformed the weapon into a deeply raced and gendered object.
2017-18 Summer Scholars
Over the summer of 2017-18 the project team is joined by a further 4 summer scholars.
Max Nichol (left, outside the Museum) is based at the Auckland War Memorial Museum this summer, exploring the transformation of Auckland from its life as a garrison town in the early 1860s, through years of sharp recession to its later emergence as a major colonial city by the late 19th Century. Max was interviewed about his Hons thesis and his upcoming Masters work at the NZHA conference in November, and you can hear that here.
Caitlin Lynch is at Te Papa, enriching information about collection items within the museum with a focus on the W.F. Gordon collection of carte-de-visite photographs. She is contextualising these photographs by identifying related objects in the photographic, archival and material culture collections, and exploring connections between individual people, places and events.
Sian Smith is likewise spending her summer working with W.F. Gordon photographs, but is based at Puke Ariki, making Gordon's album "Some "Soldiers of the Queen" who served in the Maori wars and other notable persons connected herewith" (PHO2011-1997), available online, while undertaking research into the people and stories the album contains.
Philip Little is working his way through the WO 12 (quarterly muster rolls) for the 50th, 65th, and 68th regiments, picking out details of the men Max transcribed from the WO 97 records last summer to get a more in-depth view of these men and address such questions as 'are there differences discernible across these three regiments in terms of discipline, deployment, or health?'
2016/17 Summer Scholars
Over the summer of 2016-17 the project team is joined by a further 3 summer scholars.
Josh King is at the Auckland War Memorial Museum, investigating 'life, death and disease in 1860s wartime Auckland', looking at the impact of the military presence in Auckland on the life and growth of the city, and the apparently unique morbidity and motality profile of British troops in New Zealand, focussing on Albert Barracks.
Scott Flutey is spending his summer digitsing the Ellott collection at Te Papa, examining this postal collection with an eye to such questions as who was writing, to whom, and what were they writing about? What does the material reveal about literacy by age, nationality or rank? What kinds of networks were maintained by post?
Max Nichol was going to be examining the T9 ledgers held at Archives New Zealand, analysing pensions, but the 14 November earthquake had other ideas. Max is now working his way through a sample of discharge records held in the UK National Archives WO97 series for the 50th, 65th and 68th regiments, transcribing these before examining what they can tell us, with an eye particularly on health and morbidity.
2015/16 Summer Scholars
Over the summer of 2015-16 the project team was joined by 4 summer scholars.
John McLellan transcribed and examined the diary of Ensign Spencer Nicholl, in collaboration with the Alexander Turnbull Library, creating a digital narrative.
Samantha Hunt worked at Puke Ariki researching and recording the details of the New Plymouth Garrison Order book of the 57th Regiment.
Angus Crowe investigate rations among other things, examining 'the stomach at war'.
Fiona Cliff picked up on research carried out for her honours research essay to trace men across the Empire, from the Crimea to India to New Zealand, examining what the men did and did not take with them.