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Oral history awards reveal New Zealand’s stories


Women’s sex lives, New Zealand’s transgender community, Dungeons and Dragons gaming, ZEALANDIA and ice skating are just some of the fascinating topics covered in this year’s New Zealand Oral History Awards, Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage Chief Historian Neill Atkinson said today.

“The 12 awards made this year are set to reveal a wealth of New Zealand’s stories,” Neill Atkinson said.

“Noelle McCarthy’s project Sex Lives: New Zealand women talk about sex across the Generation will examine the changing social norms of sex and sexuality through the experiences of women from 23 and to 80 years old. Topics explored include desire and sexual preference, contraception and unwanted pregnancy, sex education and consent.

Trans lives in Aotearoa New Zealand sees Caren Wilton interviewing people who were part of New Zealand’s transgender community in the 1970s. At this time trans people formed strong communities round the late-night coffee bars and clubs in Wellington and Auckland. They gained support from established transwomen such as Carmen Rupe who owned the infamous Balcony nightclub and Carmen’s Coffee Lounge.

“Roleplaying and the significance of gaming in people’s lives is the subject of Hannah Benbow and Chantalle Smith’s project Wellington Dungeons and Dragons. Early editions of Dungeons and Dragons date from the 1970s and research shows more people than ever are playing the game.

“Next year is the 25th anniversary of ZEALANDIA, the Kaori Wildlife Sanctuary, and the proposal is to record the stories of the volunteers who have had an essential role in the development of the first fenced sanctuary in New Zealand.



“The sport of ice skating has been around in the central South Island since the 1860s with the first clubs established there in the 1930s. Grace Bateman and Paul Garbett intend to document this unique historical experience and adventuresome recreation by interviewing five people about their recollections of ice skating in its hay day.

“These awards are funded by the New Zealand Oral History Awards Trust, a contestable fund administered by Manatū Taonga. The trust was set up in 1990 as the result of a $1 million gift from the Australian government to mark the sesquicentennial of the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

“The funds are to be used to record oral histories relevant to New Zealand and its close associations with the South Pacific. Since 1990 over $2 million has been given to more than 400 community groups and individuals with a total of $100,198 in grants this year.

“An independent committee, including historians and people with expertise in the oral history field, reviews the applications to assess the contribution the project would make to our understanding of Aotearoa’s history,” Neill Atkinson said.

The full list of recipients and their projects for 2019:

Whakarua Trust Board, Uepohatu: The History of Whakarua Park $5000

Caren Wilton, Trans lives in Aotearoa New Zealand $10,500

Sue Bradford and Karen Davis, Kotare Research & Education for Social Change
in Aotearoa Trust, Kotare speaks: 25 years of education for social change in
Aotearoa $10,000

ZEALANDIA (Karori Wildlife Trust), The First Fence: Voices of Karori Wildlife
Sanctuary $11,540

Susan Maree Lennox, Lower Hutt Women’s Centre: Flourishing for thirty years $500

Grace Bateman and Paul Garbett, Ice Skating in New Zealand,
Part 1: 1930s - 1970s $7,500

Voice + Ink - Helen Frizzell, Megan Hutching and Pip Oldham, In My Room $15,000

Hannah Benbow and Chantalle Smith, Wellington Dungeons and Dragons $6,400

Noelle McCarthy, Sex Lives: New Zealand women talk about sex across the
generations $20,690

Keystrokes per minute project team with Dr Judith Aitken, Keystrokes Per
Minute: a history of women in the public service typing pool from 1945 to the
present day $3,000

Jacqueline Roberta Keelan-Peebles, Whakapourangi Road $5,000

Pia Maria Kahn, New Zealand’s ‘happiest migrants’: An introductory oral history
of Filipino migrants in New Zealand $5,068

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