Neill Atkinson


I am Chief Historian and Manager of Heritage Content at Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Prior to this I worked as a historian for the Ministry, as an editor/researcher for the Dictionary of NZ Biography and as a freelance historian.

In this role I manage the Ministry’s team of historians and researchers and oversee content for our history and reference websites, including Te Ara – Encyclopedia of NZ, Ngā Tangata Taumata Rau – Dictionary of NZ Biography, NZHistory, 28th Māori Battalion and Te Tai Whakaea Treaty Settlement Stories, as well as commissioned print histories and other projects.

I was President of PHANZA from 2007 to 2010, after serving on its national executive from 2003. I was also a member of the national executive of the Labour History Project (formerly Trade Union History Project) from 2003 to 2009.

I have written, co-written or edited nine books, including ‘Trainland’ on New Zealand’s railway history, ‘Crew Culture’ and ‘Hell or High Water’ on seafaring, and ‘Adventures in Democracy’ and ‘Rewarding Service’ on the history of government and politics. I helped organise the international Myriad Faces of War symposium in 2017 (and co-edited the resulting publication, ‘The Myriad Legacies of 1917’) and the 2023 ‘Scarred Nations’ symposium at Auckland Museum.

My most recent publications are ‘Railways Studios’ (2020), a highly illustrated history of railways’ role in advertising and tourism, and a chapter in the 7th edition of ‘Government and Politics in Aotearoa New Zealand’ (2021).



  • Biography
  • Government administration
  • Labour
  • Maritime
  • Politics
  • Railways
  • Transport