Story: History and historians

Michael King's Penguin history of New Zealand

In this clip from the programme Michael King, history man, Michael King and his publisher at Penguin Books, Geoff Walker, talk about his general history of New Zealand. King was educated at Victoria University of Wellington, and then became a journalist in Waikato. There he became fascinated with Māori kuia with moko (facial tattoos) and proceeded to write a book about moko. Tainui then invited him to write a biography of their great leader Te Puea Hērangi. It was a success, and from that point on Michael King survived as a freelance historian, largely outside a university setting. He therefore set out to write well-researched books with scholarly attributes, but in a style that would appeal to a wide audience outside academia. He produced books on Whina Cooper and Moriori, and biographies of writers Frank Sargeson and Janet Frame. The Penguin history of New Zealand was his final work before his death in a car crash in 2004. As Walker explains, its sales were huge – which was a testament both to King's skills and the popular appetite that had developed for New Zealand history by the 2000s.

About this item

Greenstone TV
Reference: History man. Writer and producer, Colin Hogg; director, John Carlaw. Auckland: Greenstone TV, 2004

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How to cite this page:

Jock Phillips, 'History and historians - The growth of history – since 1970', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/video/43562/michael-kings-penguin-history-of-new-zealand (accessed 31 May 2017)

Story by Jock Phillips, published 22 Oct 2014