Historian Redmer Yska
has been named National Library Research Fellow
Yska will use the $45,000 fellowship, which is awarded annually for research use of the Alexander Turnbull Library's resources, to write a social and institutional history of New Zealand Truth newspaper, a disreputable but always vivid fixture of the local media scene.
In announcing the award, National Librarian and CEO of the National Library of New Zealand, Penny Carnaby, said: "We are full of anticipation over the important social and political history that will be revealed through exploring the records of NZ Truth. It is a newspaper that many New Zealanders will have a view about, and often, these views will be controversial ones."
Yska said: "For so much of the 20th century, this weekly tabloid newspaper orchestrated and shaped public opinion in much the same way that prime time television news shows like Close Up or Campbell Live do today.
"Founded in 1906, NZ Truth was soon selling an astonishing 100,000 copies a week as it became the voice of the 'ordinary New Zealander'. By the 1950s, one in two New Zealand households bought it. Respectable readers always claimed an interest in the recipes and racing pages - never the spicy scandals and divorces!"
Yska is a Wellington-born writer and historian. A graduate of Victoria University, he began his career as a reporter for NZ Truth. He later worked on newspapers in England, and has served as a ministerial press secretary and departmental speech writer.
His books on post-war youth culture include All Shook Up: The Flash Bodgie and the Rise of the New Zealand Teenager in the 1950s (Penguin, 1993). He explored his identity as a Dutch New Zealander with the publication of An Errand of Mercy: Captain Jacob Eckhoff and the Loss of the Kakanui (Banshee, 2001), and wrote the entry on the Dutch in Te Ara: the online encyclopedia of New Zealand. In 2006, Reed published his commissioned civic history, Wellington: Biography of a City.