The Judith Binney Writing Awards support research and writing that explores and expands our understanding of New Zealand history.

Kirsty Dunn
(Te Aupōuri, Te Rarawa)

Kirsty Dunn is an author and researcher based in Ōtautahi, Christchurch. Her creative work has been published in Tupuranga, Stasis, Mayhem, Huia Short Stories 10, and Te Whē: Te Hau o te Whenua; she was also a contributing author to the biographical anthology Tāngata Ngāi Tahu / People of Ngāi Tahu.

Kirsty’s current focus is an exploration of the ways in which various animal species in Aotearoa are represented in Māori writing in English.

Inspired by Kaupapa Māori research methodologies and the expansive approaches to literary studies taken by Māori and Indigenous scholars, she aims to situate these texts within a vast and vibrant literary whakapapa, whilst drawing upon pūrākau as a framework for reading and analysis.

For Kirsty, these narratives are powerful means by which relationships and responsibilities encapsulated in whakapapa – and the many forms of narrative which accompany them – are represented, reaffirmed, and celebrated.

The Judith Binney Trust Writing Award will allow her to prepare for publication her doctoral thesis “Into the Dark, We are Moths”: Centering Whakapapa, Representing Animals in Māori Writing in English.

Kirsty was awarded the prestigious Ngata Centenary Doctoral Scholarship in 2017 for her PhD research and received the Australasian Animal Studies Association award for best postgraduate paper at the association’s 2017 conference in Adelaide.

Sarah Johnston
(Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Rākaipaaka)

Sarah Johnston is an Ōtautahi/Christchurch based researcher, writer and broadcaster with a passion for listening to the sounds of our past.

She has previously worked as a journalist with Radio New Zealand and Deutsche Welle and with the RNZ Sound Archives collection, which is now cared for by Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision. For the past five years she has produced and presented the popular ‘Sound Archives’ segment on RNZ’s Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan.

In early 2020 Sarah successfully nominated sound recordings made during World War II by the New Zealand Broadcasting Service Mobile Units for inscription in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register.

The 1600 fragile lacquer discs which make up this collection were recorded by the units which travelled with New Zealand forces from 1940-1945, through fighting in North Africa, the Middle East, Italy and the Pacific.

‘These taonga are priceless, firstly because they contain the voices, kōrero and waiata of New Zealanders at war,’ Sarah says. ‘But beyond that, these recordings had an impact on how radio listeners at home understood the war and they represent important developments in our social and media histories.’

The Judith Binney Writing Award will enable her to further research and write about the output of the Mobile Units and how their broadcasts were heard at home.

Professor David Tipene-Leach
(Ngāti Kahungunu/ Ngāti Kere, Ngāti Manuhiri)

Waitangi Teepa
(Tūhoe, Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Hine)

Dr David Tipene-Leach is a public health physician and is currently a Professor of Māori and Indigenous Research at the Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT) in Napier, Hawke’s Bay.

He has a personal connection to the subject of his Award proposal: Henare Matua, the primary leader of the Hawke’s Bay Repudiation Movement. Both men come from Pōrangahau in Hawke’s Bay, and Dr Tipene-Leach’s project is focused on manuscripts passed on to his kaitiakitanga by two uncles and an aunt, with the aspiration that one of their next generation might read, translate and place a written record of Henare Matua into the proper historical context.

The majority of the Henare Matua manuscripts, a collection of over 1000 letters and petitions written between 1860 and 1890 are written in the Māori language of the mid-1800s. 

The Judith Binney Writing Award will support their transcription and translation by Waitangi Teepa, a Te Reo Māori researcher and archivist at the Twist Library at EIT, who is already involved in the archiving of the manuscripts.

‘Presently, Henare Matua is not well known in New Zealand history and his contribution is likely under-estimated,’ says Dr Tipene-Leach. ‘The initial archiving work has revealed that Matua was the go-to man for complaints about fraudulent land loss, particularly along the eastern regions of Wairarapa, Hawke’s Bay and the East Coast proper and was responsible for crafting the engagement agenda of the Movement. This agenda became the driving force of the later national Kotahitanga Movement.’

He adds: ‘This project seeks to exploit this archive of 800 letters and 300 petitions to more fully understand the history of the man himself.’

Madi Williams
(Ngāti Kuia, Ngāti Koata)

Madi Williams is an Ōtautahi / Christchurch based historian and researcher.

Her research interests include Te Tau Ihu traditions and histories. Her work aims to expand the understanding of Aotearoa-New Zealand histories through illuminating iwi, hapū, and whānau perspectives.

The Judith Binney Writing Award will enable Madi to convert her PhD thesis on Ngāti Kuia histories into a book focussed on the pūrākau of Ngāti Kuia.

‘Ngāti Kuia is now in the post-Treaty Settlement growth phase,’ says Madi. ‘This is the perfect time to grow the historical knowledge of the people.’

Madi describes her work as crucial ‘because it is by Ngāti Kuia for Ngāti Kuia’. She adds: ‘In the spirit of Binney, it will utilise a range of source material, particularly oral traditions, waiata, karakia, pūrākau, as well as existing historiography and archaeology.’

‘It is reflective of where historical practice in New Zealand should be heading, away from pan-Māori narratives and towards iwi and hapū histories from the perspectives of those groups.’

She hopes her intended pukapuka (book) ‘would not only contribute to a significant gap in the historiography but also become a taonga for Ngāti Kuia and contribute to mātauranga of the iwi’.