New Zealand historian to speak on ‘Writing the Other Biography’ April 17 as part of SU’s Seminar in the History of the Book series
New Zealand historian to speak on ‘Writing the Other Biography’ April 17 as part of SU’s Seminar in the History of the Book seriesApril 13, 2001Cynthia J. Moritzcjmoritz@syr.edu
Claudia Orange, senior historian in New Zealand’s Ministry for Culture and Heritage and general editor of the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography (DNZB), will speak on “Writing the Other Biography” at 4 p.m. April 17 in the Hillyer Room of E.S. Bird Library. Her presentation is the second in the Seminar in the History of the Book series. The New Zealand government began publishing a new DNZB in 1990 to replace the previous edition, which had been published in 1940. That edition contained biographies primarily of public office holders and community leaders. The new edition includes prominent figures from the past along with many people who did not achieve national standing but whose importance was in a specific regional, tribal, ethnic or social context. Five volumes have been published so far, along with companion volumes in the Maori language, reflecting the bicultural nature of the country. Orange’s presentation will focus on what it means to develop a national biography not only of the great and well-known, but one that also recognizes such underrepresented populations as women, the Maori and the underclass. Orange joined the dictionary staff in 1984. She taught history at Auckland University from 1975 to 1983 while completing her master’s and doctoral theses. Her doctoral thesis was published in 1987 as “The Treaty of Waitangi” (Paul & Co. Publishers) and won the Good Fielder Wattie Book Award in 1988. She has also written on early New Zealand history and on Maori affairs under the first Labour government. She was foundation chair of the National Oral History Association of New Zealand and serves on the board of the Stout Research Centre at Victoria University of Wellington. She remains involved in Waitangi treaty issues as chair of the Crown Forestry Rental Trust Advisory Committee. In 1993, Orange was made a member of the Order of the British Empire for her service to historical research; in 1997, she was recognized as a Distinguished Alumni Fellow of the University of Auckland.