Auckland University Press

Keith Sinclair

1922-1993; Poet, historian, inspirational teacher, top New Zealander.

Photo credit: Marti Friedlander

Born and educated in Auckland, New Zealand, Sir Keith Sinclair CBE was a compelling teacher and distinguished historian of New Zealand as well as an accomplished poet. He was concerned throughout his career with New Zealand national identity and was named in 2005, by public and specialist panel voting, one of New Zealand’s Top 100 History Makers.

Sinclair helped found the New Zealand Journal of History in 1967 and wrote several ground-breaking, influential and best-selling books that established the development of New Zealand history as a discipline. The Origins of the Maori Wars (1957), which was based on his thesis, remained the leading work in the area for several decades and A History of New Zealand (1959) is still popular over 50 years later. He wrote several popular textbooks for schools and developed the art of biography in New Zealand with the books William Pember Reeves and the award-winning but controversial Walter Nash. His body of work includes five books of poetry, of which Moontalk is still in print.