Dame Judith Binney 1940-2011

Dame Judith Binney 1940-2011

Boots, woman’s, 1973, Maker unknown, Menorca. Gift of Judith Binney, 2005. Te Papa
Boots, woman’s, 1973, Maker unknown, Menorca. Gift of Judith Binney, 2005. Te Papa

This pair of boots belonged to historian Dame Judith Binney, who will be remembered for her monumental contributions to New Zealand history over the last four decades through her writing, research and teaching.

These boots were the historian’s favourites, and had a colourful history of their own. The question is: who will fill them now, after her untimely death last month?

Judith Binney was an important figure in my own pursuit of history. In 1994, I was a student in a history paper that she taught at Auckland University. The course was about colonial encounters in Mexico and Peru. Her lectures were totally absorbing; the entire class was transfixed by Judy’s charismatic presence and presentation of the past. She did not chronicle conquest but highlighted survival, resilience and individual agency. Her approach opened new historical vistas for me and, as a result, I was hooked on history.

Tomorrow, Te Papa will commemorate Dame Judith’s life and her significant contributions to New Zealand history.

Further details about the commemoration are on Te Papa’s website.

Read more about Judith Binney’s life in a blog on Te Ara by Jock Phillips.


  1. Wonderful boots, fitting for a wonderful woman, but interesting that they have been photographed in the way they have. Judith was a woman who strode out in life, and would never have stood pigeon-toed. A better photograph would be great, don’t you think?

    1. Hi there Mary Thanks for your comments.

      This is our standard reference ‘pose’ for footwear, as it provides a front and side view of the pair in one view. But yes, this image is more pigeon toed that usual! I will see what I can do about having another image taken.

      I’d actually love to find a photo of Judy actually wearing her boots – and with the Annie Bonza velvet patchwork skirt of hers that we also have at Te Papa.

      Best regards Kirstie

  2. Hello
    I, also, was much saddened by the passing of Judith Binney. Her appraoch to history was innovative, revisionist and exemplary. She was a scholar in the manner of E.H.McCormick and J.C.Beaglehole.
    Like them she undertook innovative and difficult research at a grass roots level.
    She will be greatly missed.
    Ron Brownson

    1. Dear Ron Thank you for your comments that reinforce how much Dame Judith contributed to New Zealand’s heritage of scholarly endeavour.

      Kirstie Ross Curator History

  3. Love those boots.

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