Niki Francis


Kia ora! I am a Pākehā New Zealander of English, German and Highland Scottish origin who has lived in 10 cities in 6 countries and worked in a wide range of occupations.

I have a PhD in history from the Australian National University (2015) where I wrote a thesis in the National Centre of Biography about the Aotearoa New Zealand-born Australian artist Rosalie Gascoigne. During my candidature I worked as a researcher on the Australian Dictionary of Biography (ADB).

From 2013 until December 2018 when I moved from Canberra to Te Whanganui-ā-Tara Wellington, I was a committee member of the Australian Women’s Archive Project (AWAP), a joint venture of Melbourne University and the National Foundation for Australian Women. I contributed several biographical entries and essays to the AWAP’s website, The Australian Women’s Register
As well as contributing research for hundreds of ADB entries, I wrote this entry to the ADB:

I took several months out of my PhD candidature to manage the process of preparing the history of the ADB: “The ADB’s Story”, eds. Melanie Nolan and Christine Fernon (2013), including conducting oral history interviews, archival research, checking references and managing timelines for the book:

During 2018 in Canberra I did historical and biographical research for Helen Ennis’s book “Olive Cotton: A life in photography” (2019):

Since returning to Aotearoa New Zealand in December 2018 I have, among other things, collaborated with a hapū in Tai Tokerau Northland, researching and writing aspects of their history. We developed our collaborative research into the history of the school in Takahiwai, a kainga south of Whangarei, into storyboards placed by the school bus stop so tamariki could become familiar with some of the kainga history. Kiwi North, Whangarei Museum, developed this project into a highly successful special exhibition in 2020.

A number of my brief biographies of women who signed the 1893 Women’s Suffrage Petition can be found on

During 2021 and 2022 I worked on a contract for the Dictionary of NZ Biography at the Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

During the first half of 2023 I worked on the manuscript of my biography of Aotearoa New Zealand’s-born Australian artist Rosalie Gascoigne (1917-1999), based on my PhD thesis, to be published by Australian National University (ANU) Press mid-2024.

I am currently updating online information about Lower Hutt women who signed the 1893 Women’s Suffrage petition, and researching the social history of shops in Eastbourne, with an initial focus on a family store started by two sisters during the First World War.

I have extensive experience of genealogy and family history, having researched my own family and through my work for the Australian Dictionary of Biography and the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography.

Feel free to contact me about projects you are considering.
Ngā mihi nui.


  • Editing
  • Exhibition preparation
  • Oral history
  • Photographic research
  • Proof-reading
  • Research
  • Writing


  • Art
  • Biography
  • Family
  • Local
  • Religion
  • Visual arts
  • Women