Gunson Essay Prize in Pacific History

A prize of AUD$1,000 will be awarded at the 21st Biennial Pacific History Association Conference, in Taipei and Taitung, Taiwan, 3-6th December 2014, for the winner of the Gunson Essay Prize Competition.

Postgraduate or senior students from any country are invited to submit an essay

  • in English
  • between 5,000 and 8,000 words
  • on any topic relating to the pasts of the Island Pacific and its peoples
  • to by 3 November 2014.

Each entry should consist of two documents: one with the author’s name, contact details, essay title and abstract of 150 words; the other consisting of the essay itself, anonymised, with title, abstract and text. Referencing should be consistent, accurate and complete, but authors do not need to follow any one particular set of conventions for presentation.

Please note that an essay submitted for the prize should not have been published or accepted for publication in any outlet by the closing date for entries.

The winning entry will, in the eyes of the judges,

  • make the most valuable contribution to our historical knowledge
  • draw convincingly from relevant sources
  • communicate effectively.

The judging committee will consist of three members, including a special speaker at the Pacific History Association Conference, a representative of the Pacific History Association and a representative of The Journal of Pacific History.

The Gunson Prize is new. It promotes the work of scholars at the early stages of their research. It also pays tribute to Dr Niel Gunson, from the Australian National University, for mentoring so many students and scholars over a lifetime of dedication to Pacific history. It is awarded every two years.

The inaugural 2012 prize was won by:

  • Nicholas Hoare (Victoria University, Wellington), ‘“Harry” Holland and Samoa: the Labour leader’s “Samoa complex”.

Highly commended were:

  • Charmaine ‘Ilaiu Talei (University of Queensland), ‘Understanding the diffusion of coconut architecture through an analysis of thatching applied on traditional Tongan and Fijian architectures’
  • Natasha McKinney (Massey University), ‘Hidden episodes in Marquesan history Indigenous agency and the Marquesan collection at the British Museum, London’.

For further details, please contact The Journal of Pacific History,

For information about the 2014 PHA conference, see


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