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Student story

Dan Bartlett

20 July 2023

Kāi Tahu, Kāti Mamoe, Waitaha, Rapuwai

"I look at history every day with a great team of historians..."


(Kāi Tahu, Kāti Mamoe, Waitaha, Rapuwai)

Bachelor of Arts in English and History

Bachelor of Arts with Honours in History

Historian, Office of Treaty Settlements, New Zealand Ministry of Justice | Tāhū o te Ture, Wellington

As a Historian for the Office of Treaty Settlements, Dan is able to assist with the settlements process of Te Tiriti o Waitangi the Treaty of Waitangi, through research and writings on Māori and Pākehā in the 19th and 20th Century of Aotearoa.

“I fell in love with history, and now I mostly live in the past,” Dan says. “I get to assist iwi with their claim and the settlement process; I look at history every day with a great team of historians; and the Turnbull Library and Archives NZ are just across the road!”

Dan first discovered his passion for history through his studies with UC, after his initial plans to become a secondary school teacher. He went on to conduct his own original research within an honours degree focused on History.

“It taught me how to research and write; take on board feedback and improve my work; and why history (especially local history!) is so important.

“I enjoyed the lovely leafy campus, the Brutalist architecture, the UC History Department and the libraries (the staff there are awesome!).”

Much of Dan’s studies with UC involved him taking on as many opportunities as possible for real-world experience.

UC’s HIST 429 course on the social history of medicine provided a fantastic opportunity to conduct in-depth research into Aotearoa’s state and private rental housing stock, and its consequent negative effects on children’s health. The research paper written for the course, Race, Class and Rentals, led to public history presentations and radio interviews, and Dan continues to research and write on this subject.

He also was able to write a book review for the New Zealand International Review (NZIR), which he says has led to more reviewing opportunities “and several free books” throughout his career.

With a UC Summer Research Scholarship, Dan was also a part of the team behind the Voices Against War public history website during a summer of study. Through support from the History Department and the Canterbury History Foundation, Dan was able to present his summer research on the early 20th century Christchurch labour movement at a GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums) conference in Auckland.

“It was a great experience, and I’d highly recommend presenting your research at a conference if you get the chance,” he says.

“The Voices Against War project was (and still is, as I continue to be involved) an absolutely fantastic experience. I am a big fan of Christchurch’s radical history.”

The website work has developed into a book that Dan is co-authoring with Voices Against War lead researcher Margaret Lovell-Smith. They have received a grant from the Ministry of Culture and Heritage to assist with researching and writing.

Dan’s summer research experience and studies with the UC History Department led to his first job after graduating with the Ngāi Tahu Archives team at Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu. Employing the skills honed at UC, Dan worked as a researcher and writer on Tāngata Ngāi Tahu: People of Ngāi Tahu (Bridget Williams Books, 2017), a book of Ngāi Tahu biographies that was longlisted for the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.

Getting involved in as much as possible has led Dan to his career today as a Historian, and so he strongly encourages others to go for any extra opportunities that arise.

“Essays and marks are important, but it’s the real-world experience that’ll get you employed. Give presentations, write reviews, join local history groups, and try and get involved in one of those summer scholarship projects!”

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