Nga Tohutohu

As history students at the University of Auckland, we recognised the need to develop an informative resource which would be valuable to students during the essay writing process. As a result, we decided to create Nga Tohutohu. ‘Tohutohu’ means to instruct or advise, and so on one level Nga Tohutohu is a guide for students of history. On a deeper level, however, the root of the term is ‘tohu’ or symbol, particularly one used in navigation. For Maori who had to read the symbols (such as stars, oceans, currents and winds) to cross vast oceans to reach this land, tohu have great power. And for historians, who navigate through time and space, learning to read symbols is a key part of our discipline. Hence the name: Nga Tohutohu. This resource provides students with examples of high quality essays which are then deconstructed in order to demonstrate how a student might go about getting that grade. We have also included areas where students might be able to improve. We believe that this will be a useful resource for students, particularly those who may be taking history as a general education paper or without previous experience studying history

History Coursework Guide

The history coursework guide is a brief overview of all aspects of history coursework at the University of Auckland, including the different types of assessments, how to write an essay, how to reference properly and how to present your work. If you’ve got a question that the guide doesn’t answer, please contact your lecturer or tutor; you can also get in touch with us at


Histeria! is the history department’s annual publication of the best student essays from courses taught in the previous academic year. The booklet usually contains 8-10 essays submitted by lecturers and edited by a postgraduate student. The essays in each volume provide a useful guide to students who are looking to improve their own work. If you have any questions about the essays presented below or about upcoming editions of Histeria! please contact Professor Linda Bryder 

Histeria! 2017

Histeria! 2015

Histeria! 2016

Good Stuff

These are a few of our favourite videos, podcasts, articles and books to check out, as well as details of how you can follow prominent historians in the public arena.

If you’ve got something that you’d love to see added to this list, please get in touch at


‘History needs to look and sound less like newspaper editorials and more like poetry, or even a novel.’

In this video, English historian Simon Schama talks about what he thinks history ought to look and sound like in the 21st century. He argues that good history writing must be engaging as well as informative and accessible to the public as well as useful to scholars.

‘Other professions can afford to be boring, history can’t.’

In this video, former American Historical Association President William Cronon discusses his work as an environmental historian and the importance of effective storytelling in historical writing. Stories, he says, form the core of all history writing and historians must use them to make connections with the public.


Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History

Touted as the best produced history podcast out there, Hardcore History brings you a 3-4 hour episode every few months where Dan Carlin delves deep into one topic.

BackStory with The American History Guys

Covers all things ‘Murica from the history of red meat in the U.S.A. to broadway.

Sawbones: A Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine

Dr. Sydnee McElroy and her husband Justin dig through the annals of medical history every Friday to uncover all the odd, weird, wrong, dumb and just gross ways we’ve tried to fix people over the years.

The History Chicks

From Joan of Arc to Mary Todd Lincoln, this hour-long show discusses important female figures in history and is full of all sorts of interesting stories that your school textbooks probably didn’t cover.

Stuff You Missed in History Class

Hosted by the team from howstuffworks, this podcast covers all sorts of different historical stories from ancient to modern times.

History of English: The Spoken History of a Global Language

This one is for the etymologists. An almost-weekly take on English history with a focus on the development of the English language.

Books, Websites and Articles


Why Society Needs Historians

The Social Historian – A.K.A. Professor Jonathan Healey of Oxford University – outlines the case for historians as important members of society in the 21st-century.

What Is History?

Developed by 200+ first-year history students at the University of East Anglia, this website sees students answering ‘the big questions’ about history. A great resource if you’re just getting started at stage 2 or 3.

The History News Network

The History News Network is a great resource for historical perspectives on current events as well as interesting news and articles about history in society today.


Produced and curated by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, this website is full of interesting biographies and media resources about NZ history. It’s great for ordinary users and scholars alike.

NZ On Screen

The home of classic NZ television, this website is fantastic for finding old documentaries and movies. There are some particularly great political/historical documentaries about NZ during the 1980s/1990s.


What is History? (E.H. Carr)

Perhaps one of the most-read works about history of the 20th-century, E.H. Carr’s classic work is a short and useful (though by no means uncontroversial)  introduction to a notoriously complicated question.

Deconstructing History (Alun Munslow)

Since the 1980s, Alun Munslow has been a leading exponent of the postmodern approach to history. This book is a helpful resource if you’re just starting your postgraduate study or love questions about historical theory. See also Keith Jenkins’ Postmodern History Reader for shorter summaries of key postmodern thinkers’ works.

Provincialising Europe (Dipesh Chakrabarty)

If you haven’t taken History 300, postcolonialism may be a foreign concept to you – never fear, however, Chakrabarty is here to help. In his now-famous book, Chakrabarty examines how Western modes of thought have influenced the way history is written in non-Western cultures. See also Jonathan Young’s Postcolonialism: An Historical Introduction.

Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis (Joan Scott)

Joan Scott’s powerful article has influenced a generation of historians, both male and female, and helped to encourage a reappraisal of how historians use notions of gender in their historical writing.

 AHA Presidential Addresses

The American Historical Association is the USA’s leading organisation for professional historians, its presidents are some of the best historians in their fields. This website has Presidential addresses going back to the 1880s, with videos available from more recent meetings.


Grab a t-shirt to liven up your wardrobe. All items are pick-up only from level 7 of the Arts 1 building.

T-Shirts ($30)

Our t-shirts come in white or navy blue and have our logo printed on the front and back. Men’s sizing guide here. Women’s sizing guide here.