Auckland History Initiative

The Auckland History Initiative (AHI) seeks to engage with and capture the historical and cultural development, the vibrancy and diversity of Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland and its importance to New Zealand life and beyond. Our aim is to reach beyond the University to build strong and enduring connections with Auckland's many history and heritage institutions and communities and put Auckland's history at the heart of an energetic conversation about our city.


Auckland is changing rapidly and it can be strongly argued that the city is the place where Aotearoa/New Zealand's future is being made. This relates not only to its remarkable population growth since 1945 and the diverse composition of its peoples but also the many ways the city is changing to accommodate them. Auckland's new unified governance structure has created new opportunities for the city to reshape its identity and its history is crucial to that process.

The AHI will focus on the historical and cultural development of Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland as well as the wider Auckland region extending from Northland to the Waikato, and Auckland's connections with international and global networks of trade, governance and culture. We believe that the study of people is integral to understanding Auckland, beginning with the city's Indigenous peoples and how Indigenous histories are played out on cityscapes (and how cityscapes are established on Indigenous places). Auckland has also been for some time the largest Pacific Island city in the world, and, since the 1980s, has been increasingly multicultural. Population changes bring opportunities and challenges, which we believe should be informed by a deeper understanding of history.

The AHI will develop Ngā Ara o Haere – A Framework for Auckland History. In collaboration with stakeholders including iwi, Council, central government agencies, the GLAM sector (galleries, libraries, archives and museums), research institutes and local historical societies, we will develop a common framework of overarching high-level themes with which to approach the history of Auckland.

We will ensure that the framework will meet the highest standards in scholarship, yet be flexible enough to meet the future research needs of greater Auckland. The Framework project will enhance our teaching and the employability of our graduates by connecting students at all levels with Auckland's heritage and history communities. Through internships and new research opportunities with these communities, we will attract domestic and international students interested in urban, transnational, ethnic, cultural, social and environmental histories. University staff and trained scholars will draw on their own historical training and experience of asking the bigger questions about our past, guiding students in their research, and conversing with the Auckland public to inform them about the origins of their place in the world.


Professor Linda Bryder

Dr Aroha Harris

Dr Hirini Kaa

Dr Debbie Dunsford