New book brings out historic treasures of Aotearoa

Supplied Content

Neill Atkinson

Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage’s online historical treasures feature in a newly released book, Today in New Zealand History, which presents a day-by-day calendar of events from New Zealand’s past.

The content, largely adapted from the Ministry’s popular NZHistory website, presents snapshots of our country’s rich history and brings to life the people and events that have shaped it.

NZHistory is a rich resource and our hardest challenge in putting the book together was what to leave out.

Wide-ranging topics

The daily entries canvas a range of topics. For example, this month – October – showcases Dave Dobbyn’s song Slice of Heaven which topped the charts on October 2, 1986, the grounding of the container ship Rena on Astrolabe Reef on October 5, 2011, the end of the six o’clock swill on October 9, 1967, and the arrival into Wellington on October 13, 1975 of Whina Cooper and 5000 marchers protesting against the ongoing alienation of Māori land.

Beginning on January 1, when in 1859 the Pencarrow Head lighthouse in Wellington Harbour was lit for the first time, every day of the year has at least one entry; some dates feature two.

Significant Achievements

The country’s achievements in sports and the influence of arts and culture on our daily lives are also profiled, from Jack Lovelock winning the country’s first Olympic athletics gold at Berlin on August 6, 1936 to Peter Jackson’s The Return of the King winning 11 Oscars at the 76th Academy Awards in Los Angeles on February 29, 2004.

We have had our share of disasters too, in just one-month February, the Hawke’s Bay earthquake struck, the SS Penguin was wrecked in Cook Strait and the Mikhail Lermontov went down in the Marlborough Sounds.

And naturally, there are many firsts. June 1, 1960 saw the country’s first official television broadcast, New Zealand’s first wind farm became operational on June 6, 1996, and on June 20, 1987 the All Blacks took out the first Rugby World Cup.

Presenting content ranging from the quirky and bizarre to the events that have shaped New Zealand’s political and constitutional development, Today in New Zealand History should have wide appeal.

And people who want to find out more can go to our websites, NZHistory and Te Ara, to explore more comprehensive content.

Taking a year to put together, the lavishly illustrated, full colour book was developed in partnership with the Alexander Turnbull Library and is published by Exisle Publishing.

For more information, please visit

Neill Atkinson is Chief Historian at the Ministry for Culture & Heritage of New Zealand. He collaborated with David Green, Gareth Phipps and Steve Watters on the content of the book, ‘Today in New Zealand History.’

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