Hon doc - Gordon Ogilvie

Doctor of Letters 2000

Gordon Ogilvie is one of New Zealand’s most respected authors and his work as a regional historian and latterly as a biographer is especially significant.

Born in Christchurch, he has a special affection for Canterbury history, particularly that of the Port Hills and Banks Peninsula. 

A graduate of Canterbury and Victoria Universities, he spent much of his career as Head of English at St Andrew’s College but retired early to write full-time. His first book – St Mary’s Church, Heathcote – was published in 1960. For more than 40 years he has been a freelance writer for The Press and other newspapers, contributing hundreds of articles on historical, literary, botanical, travel, music and food topics. He has been an active member of the Historic Places Trust.

Two of his books – The Port Hills of Christchurch and Banks Peninsula: Cradle of Canterbury – won J M Sherrard awards for regional history writing and his Moonshine Country and Pioneers of the Plains: The Deans of Canterbury received high commendations. The Riddle of Richard Pearse, a finalist in the Watties Book of the Year awards in 1974, has been the source of three television documentary dramas, three stage plays, a radio drama and a poetry sequence. He has also written entries on Pearse, Sir Henry Wigram, George Stead, Rodolph Wigley, Brigadier J T Burrows and Denis Glover for The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography.

My Ogilvie’s Denis Glover: His Life, published last year, was described by Maurice Shadbolt as a “masterly achievement which has carried literary biography to a new plane in New Zealand.” The book was a finalist in the 1999 Montana Book Awards.

Citation authorised as true and correct at December 2000.