A Brief History of the NZFHS
The New Zealand Federation of Historical Societies Inc evolved over a number of decades, finally reaching its present format in 1971.
The first reference to forming a national body was in late 1934 but did not reach fruition as one or two major historical centres did not support the venture.
After WW2 and the Korean conflict major development was taking place within New Zealand and many heritage sites were either threatened or bulldozed into extinction. Again the amateur historical societies raised the question of a national body in order to protect the remaining sites - this time with greater success.
From this attempt rose the professional New Zealand Historic Places Trust; this effort was commented on in the journal of the NZHPT, New Zealand Heritage Winter 2005 volume.
Over the ensuing years it would appear the NZHPT moved away from the concepts that were envisaged by historical societies. These concerns were addressed in August 1970 when a meeting, instigated by the Auckland Historical Society, was held in Hamilton. From this meeting a steering committee, Mr A A N Moore (Cambridge) convener, was formed and charged with drafting a constitution and calling a meeting in 1971. The object of this next year’s meeting was to form and launch a federation of historical societies. The expected advantages to societies were mutual assistance, dissemination of information and a strong national voice for the preservation of historic sites and records.
During the weekend 20-21 March, 1971 at that inaugural meeting, the New Zealand Federation of Historical Societies (hereafter referred to as the Federation) was formed, with 44 historical societies listed as members later that year. In December 1973 the Federation was incorporated at Hamilton. This incorporation has assisted non-incorporated members over the years in their applications for funding.
Over the years the Federation has maintained an annual conference and an annual general meeting is held as part of the weekend’s activities. These conferences are held throughout the country, which gives all member societies the opportunity to meet with like minded groups. This annual conference is one of the strengths of Federation as joys, pitfalls and experiences are shared at these meetings. Regional days are also held in various parts of the country where affiliates meet for a day and share thoughts and learn a little of the host society’s historical heritage and sites.
Other activities include publication and distribution of a quarterly newsletter as well as half yearly journal New Zealand Legacy. This journal has been published since 1989 and can perhaps claim to be the longest continuous heritage magazine in New Zealand. Prior to 1989 a journal was published each year from 1971, an achievement of which Federation is proud. These are the main means of communication with members. The Federation’s website is also available for both members and the public’s information about itself and member societies.
This is the Federation that continues to the present. Membership has increased slowly and the Federation is now actively seeking further contacts and hopefully membership with non-affiliated societies.
Brief biographies of past presidents [ Word ] [ PDF ]
Robin B Astridge QSM, Liaison Officer