Rachel Patrick


I am an independent historian based in Kāpiti in the Wellington region.

I have broad-ranging interests in New Zealand social and cultural history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. My research interests and specialty areas include the history of the family, women’s and gender history, grief, the history of the First World War, the health and education history.

I hold a PhD in history from Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington, a Master of Arts in History (by Research) with First Class Distinction from the University of Melbourne, and a BA (Hons) First Class in History from Te Herenga Waka.

I have previously worked as a professional historian and researcher for the Waitangi Tribunal’s report writing unit and in the research team at the Abuse in Care Royal Commission. I am currently employed as a Senior Performance Auditor at the Office of the Auditor-General.

I am currently working on a collective biography of an Otago family, and the families they were connected to, during the First World War.

My past publications, conference presentations, and podcast appearances include:

‘Bereavement and Mourning (New Zealand)’ in: 1914-1918-online. International Encyclopedia of the First World War, ed. by Ute Daniel, Peter Gatrell, Oliver Janz, Heather Jones, Jennifer Keene, Alan Kramer, and Bill Nasson, issued by Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, 2015. URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.15463/ie1418.10557.

“‘Speaking across the borderline”’: intimate connections, grief and Spiritualism in the First World War letters of Elizabeth Stewart’, History Australia, 2013.

“‘An Antidote to Bookishness”’: local history, educational practices and colonialism in New Zealand Primary Schools, 1900-1940’, New Zealand Journal of History, 45 (no 2), 2011.

Conference presentations:

‘Voices from the Typing Pools: learning from the oral histories of women typists in public service typing pools, 1950-1990s’, New Zealand Historical Association Conference, online, November 2021.

‘Connecting Homefronts and Battlefronts: patriotic women travellers during the First World War’, Victoria University History Programme lunch-time seminar series, 2015.

‘A Family War. Otago Families in the First World War’, Women’s Studies Association Symposium on the First World War, Wellington, 2015.

‘Our Great Search for Health’: William Downie Stewart’s experience of disability, New Zealand Historical Association Conference, Dunedin, 2013.

‘Speaking Across the Borderline’: intimacy, estrangement and Spiritualism in the war-time letters of Elizabeth Stewart, Australian Historical Association Conference, Adelaide, 2012.

‘Words of Comfort and Sorrow’: Condolence Letters of the Great War’, New Zealand Historical Association Conference, University of Waikato, 2011.

Contesting the War Experience: librarians, soldiers, the reading public and the debate over All Quiet on the Western Front, Stout Centre Conference, Victoria University of Wellington, 2011.

The Great War and the Emotions through the Letters of Mary Downie Stewart and the Case Files of the Otago Soldiers’ and Dependents’ Welfare Committee, Great War and the Emotions Symposium, Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington (2010).


Contributor to Key Strokes Per Minute: a podcast about women in the New Zealand Public Service Typing pools from 1945 to the present day. https://storycollective.nz/


  • Research
  • Treaty research
  • Writing


  • Biography
  • Education
  • Family
  • Gender
  • Government administration
  • Health and medical
  • Institutional
  • Medical and health
  • Women