'Unlike in Europe, North America, Australia and elsewhere, urban history has never been sustained as a distinct field of scholarship in New Zealand. This is surprising, considering that since the early twentieth century most New Zealanders have lived in towns and cities – 86 per cent were urban in 2014. Yet we know surprisingly little about these urban dwellers and the spaces in which they lived.' The pursuit of city life is one of the most important untold stories of New Zealand. The Big Smoke is the first comprehensive history to tell this story, presenting a dynamic and highly illustrated account of city life from 1840 to 1920. It explores such questions as: what did cities look like and how did they change; why were women especially drawn to live in cities; in what ways did Māori experience and shape cities; how far was the street a living room and stage for city life; and why did New Zealand so quickly become a nation of townspeople? At a time of national debate over housing and the growth of our cities, Ben Schrader’s superb new history reveals how our urban origins have shaped the people we are today. Available in paperback and ebook formats from booksellers and using the ‘Buy’ buttons on this page. For more information on these purchase options please visit our Sales FAQs page or contact us.
About the author
Ben Schrader is a Wellington historian specialising in urban history and historic preservation. He was Senior Researcher of the award-winning New Zealand Historical Atlas (1997) and has written extensively for Te Ara, the online encyclopedia of New Zealand, for which he co-edited the City and Economy theme. His last book was We Call it Home: A History of State Housing in New Zealand (2005), a finalist in the 2006 Montana Book Awards.
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