I am an author and historian based in the Greater Wellington region of Aotearoa New Zealand.

I wrote my first ‘masterpiece’ in kindergarten. Unfortunately, I had yet to grasp the concept of writing in straight lines from left to right, so “The Clock” (a rather self-explanatory title) read more like a bowl of alphabet soup than a novel. Since that time, I’ve turned my hand to a number of different styles of fiction writing. My genres of choice are children's fiction and fantasy / sci-fi. Underlying all of my work is a desire to communicate, explore and test complex (and often uncomfortable)  ideas (such as scientific concepts, political theory, and colonialism) in a way that engages the reader. My first children's book, 'Abigail and the birth of the Sun', was published by Penguin Random House in July 2019.

I am a qualified and dedicated historian with significant experience in the Treaty sector and freshwater policy development. I completed a PhD in History at Victoria University of Wellington in 2015. My extensive publication history includes oral histories, peer-reviewed journal articles, commissioned research reports, and public history pieces. I have attended and presented at numerous historical conferences, and I have been consulted on for two television productions. My areas of specialty include Crown-Māori relations, environmental history, biography / family history, and the history of right-wing movements and ideologies.

 

FICTION

Abigail and the birth of the sun (cover)

Join Abigail on a magical night-time adventure to discover how the sun, moon and planets came into being.

 

Abigail is a curious little girl. She likes to discover the answers to really BIG questions. One night, she thinks of a question that’s SO BIG she can’t sleep until she knows the answer.

“Daddy,” she asks as he tucks her into bed, “where did the sun and all the planets come from?”

To find out the answer, Daddy invites Abigail on a magical journey through time and space. Together they explore the birth of all living things.

SHORTLISTED for New Zealand Booklovers Award for Best Children’s Book 2020

Available through all major retailers in New Zealand and Australia

Abigail and the restless raindrop (cover

Come with Abigail and her mother on a magical adventure, soaring up into the clouds to discover where the raindrops come from.

 

Abigail is a curious little girl. She likes to discover the answers to really BIG questions.

One rainy morning, she thinks of a question that's SO BIG she can't concentrate on anything else until she knows the answer.

"Mummy," she asks, "how did the water get in the clouds?"

To discover the answer, Mummy invites Abigail on an exciting adventure with a tiny drop of lake water. Together they fly up into the sky to explore the marvellous movement of water around the Earth.

Scheduled for release in July 2020 - pre-order your copy online through a number of New Zealand and Australian retailers.

 

I am available to give readings at schools, daycares, libraries, and other public venues. The Abigail series of books began as bedtime stories for my daughter, and I love imparting that same sense of wonder to other tamariki.

I am enrolled in the New Zealand Writers in Schools programme. If your school is a current member of the New Zealand Book Council Te Kaunihera Pukapuka o Aotearoa, you can apply for a subsidised Writers in Schools visit. 

Kia mau koe ki ngā kupu o ōu tūpuna
Hold fast to the words of your ancestors

Here are just some of the many services that I can provide to you as a historian. If you would like to know more, or if you want to discuss how I can tailor my services to suit the needs of your organisation, company, or whānau/hapū/iwi, please give me a call or send me an email.

Marine and Coastal Area applications

I can provide historical services for Māori customary marine title and/or protected customary rights applications, including literature reviews, scopings of extant material, detailed reports, and briefs of evidence for the High Court.

Treaty research

I can prepare and/or review research reports for the Waitangi Tribunal, Crown Forestry Rental Trust, Māori and the Crown to assist with Tribunal inquiries and Treaty settlement negotiations.

Planning and consents

I can provide historical advice on resource consent applications and regional/district plan changes, including Treaty rights and obligations, community concerns, and heritage matters.

Environmental taonga

I can prepare histories of environmental taonga (in particular rivers), including historical and contemporary disputes concerning governance, use, Treaty obligations, and Māori rights and interests (in particular customary title).

Biographies

I can work with your family to ghost-write biographies of your loved ones, to assist you to prepare one yourself, and to track down archival and genealogical records.

Organisations

I can prepare a history of your organisation or company to tell the story of where you have come from, record your successes and failures, and set a platform for your future.

 
 
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P | +64 21 0221 0888 E | matthew@matthewcunningham.net

I am represented by Nadine Rubin Nathan from HighSpot Literary for my children's fiction.