FOHC Award 2020

Dr Jonathan West

The Committee is pleased to announce that the 2020 award has been made to Dr Jonathan West, to assist towards the writing of Mirrors of the Land, a major history of New Zealand lakes.

Dr West is a professional civil servant and historian, and grew up in and around Dunedin, studying at the University of Otago (M.A., Ph.D.). His book, The Face of Nature: An Environmental History of the Otago Peninsula made extensive use of the Hocken Collections’ archives and pictorial collections. Dr West manages the Historian team at the Office for Māori Crown Relations – Te Arawhiti.

Dr West believes this history is both overdue, and more than timely, in a moment when freshwater quality is seen as our nation’s number one environmental concern. Understanding the history of our biggest freshwater bodies has never been more politically or culturally important to our future. At the heart of the project are in-depth case studies exploring histories of especially significant lakes.

These histories relate to the importance of these particular lakes in the lives of the communities around them. Taken together, however, these case studies provide new lenses on environmental, economic and cultural change across New Zealand.

Lakes such as Taupō, the Rotorua Lakes, Tutira, Waikaremoana, Wakatipu, Wānaka, Manapouri, Te Anau, Monowai, Te Waihora/ Ellesmere, Wairarapa, and Horowhenua will be studied.

President of the Friends of the Hocken Collections, Rev Donald Phillipps, said: “It is very pleasing to be able to support such an experienced and respected historian as Dr West to undertake this research about a fundamental aspect of New Zealand’s natural environments, using the Hocken Collections.”

Hocken Librarian Sharon Dell said: “Staff are delighted to hear that Dr Jonathan West will be the FOHC Research Award recipient. He has been using Hocken resources effectively for many years and we will be interested to support him through this next project”.

The Otago University Press is very happy to learn of Dr West’s successful research proposal, and OUP is the completed work’s likely publisher.

The Friends of the Hocken Collections Committee would also like to commend generally the very high calibre of applications.