Dame Judith Binney (1940–2011) served on the Board of Te Papa from 1999 to 2006. Many awards and honours acknowledged her role as a major historian and her active engagement with the place of the past in the present. In 1996, she was created a DCNZM (later a DNZM) for historical research, and she received the Prime Minister's Award for Lifetime Literary Achievement in 2006.
Dame Judith’s early research and publications focused on the impact of missionary endeavours on northern Māori and the interaction of Māori and European. Her later moves – into capturing oral history and narrative and blending these with documentary research – led to several books on the Tūhoe people and the Urewera. The publications for which she is most renowned are Redemption Songs: A Life of Te Kooti Arikirangi Te Turuki (1996) and Encircled Lands: Te Urewera 1820–1921 (2010). Her articles are many, and a selection appeared recently as Stories without End (2010).
An Auckland-based historian, Dame Judith contributed to the work of many Wellington institutions, including the Alexander Turnbull Library and the Historic Places Trust, as well as the Australian Sesquicentennial Trust for Oral History.
Te Papa will mark the important contribution made to New Zealand history by Dame Judith with a commemoration.