Human-Animal Studies

New Zealand Centre for Human-Animal Studies


Welcome to the New Zealand Centre for Human-Animal Studies

Nau mai, haere mai ki te Puna Akorangi o Aotearoa mo te Tangata me te Kararehe
NZCHAS brings together scholars from the humanities and social sciences whose research is concerned with the conceptual and material treatment of nonhuman animals in culture, society and history.




A New Zealand Book of Beasts:
Animals in our History, Culture and Everyday Life

Three NZCHAS members, Associate Professors Annie Potts, Philip Armstrong and Deidre Brown, have just published the first comprehensive human-animal studies analysis of New Zealand's history, literature, visual arts, popular culture and everday life. New Zealand Book of Beasts

A New Zealand Book of Beasts
is the main outcome of an interdisciplinary research project supported by a grant from the Marsden Fund.

The book is divided into four sections. Part One, 'Animal Icons' offers a history and analysis of the meanings associated with four 'totem' NZ animals: moa, sheep, dolphin and whale, Part Two, 'Companion Animals', provides a detailed history of 'pet' relationships from pre-European times to the present. In the third part, 'Art Animals', examines engagement with animals in a wide range of visual arts, focussing in particular on indigenous Māori traditions and on contemporary artists. And the final section, 'Controversial Animals', explores New Zealanders' complex and sometimes contradictory attitudes to animals we think of as 'pests', and those we farm for food.

'A New Zealand Book of Beasts ... will prove a treasure to anyone interested in an in-depth look at animals in New Zealand that goes beyond the stereotypes.' – Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, New Zealand Listener.

Read more here

Download review on Radio NZ National here.

Quick links

News and Features


NZCHAS Profile: Sinem Ketenci
Sinem (Si) Ketenci is a social worker and the co-founder of the Canadian registered charity "Social Workers for Animals" (, as well as the Vegan Club at Lakehead & Ryerson University -- a student-run organization dedicated to raising awareness about animal issues and veganism. Sinem Kitenci

Her doctoral research at the University of Canterbury is in the field of Social Work and focuses on the topics of Speciesism and Animal Rights Activism. Read more >>

NZCHAS member included in special issue
A human-animal themed issue of the journal Environment and Society: Advances in Research has just been published, featuring an article by NZCHAS member Dr Piers Locke. Titled 'Explorations in Ethnoelephantology: Social, Historical, and Ecological Intersections Between Asian Elephants and Humans', it traces the emergence of a new approach to the study of human-elephant interrelations that integrates methodological perspectives from the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Exploring the ways in which human and elephant lives and landscapes are socially, historically, and ecologically entangled, it reviews latest research in anthropology, geography, and history.
[read more].

Animal Earthquake Stories in the News
An NZCHAS researcher's new book on the effect of the Canterbury Earthquakes on animals and human-animal relations has been the subject of an extended article in the New Zealand Herald ... [read more].

Paws for Thought
A 13-part series of 30 minute programmes about animals began screening on Sky Channel 83 on Wednesday, 8 May 2013 at 7.30pm. The series is presented by New Zealand Companion Animal Council lawyer, Catriona MacLennan. Speakers include RNZSPCA president, Bob Kerridge; Jacqui Knight from the Monarch Butterfly Trust New Zealand (talking about how to attract monarch butterflies to your garden); One of the Family presenter and First Strike Working Group member, Shelley Ryan; Dr Brian Edwards (on cats); Unitec animal welfare expert Arnja Dale (on the link between animal cruelty and violence to humans) and NZCHAS co-director Annie Potts talking about the cognitive abilities of chickens. As well as being viewable on Sky Channel 83, the programme can be seen free to air on Face Television in Auckland. The series can also be watched online at or at

New Animal Studies Journal
The Animal Studies Journal, edited by NZCHAS Associates Dr Melissa Boyde, Dr Sally Borrell and Dr Natalie Edwards, is delighted to announce the publication of its first edition. This issue brings together a range of papers around the theme of animals and globalisation, including diverse work by animal studies scholars and artists ranging from diasporic giraffes to wandering albatrosses. This is a fully peer-reviewed journal publishing animal-studies scholarship, available online and free to access for all at

News Archive >>


Ph: +64 3 364 2987 ext 8231
NZ Centre for Human-Animal Studies
University of Canterbury
Private Bag 4800
Christchurch 8140
New Zealand
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