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Judith Huntsman papers.

Identifier: MSS-Archives-2012/13

Scope and Contents

Collection comprises field notes, correspondence, research papers, drafts of publications, transcriptions of Tokelau folktales, teaching materials, maps and genealogies, created and maintained by Huntsman in the course of over 40 years research on the history and ethnography of Tokelau.

In addition to Huntsman's own papers the collection contains material created by Antony Hooper, Robin Hooper, Allan Thomas, Kelihiano Kalolo and Maureen Molloy among others, with whom Huntsman worked closely over the years. The collection also includes material created by Tokelauans including the transcriptions of folk tales by Toloa Poasa in Series 8 and the household food diaries kept for Huntsman by women from Atafu and Nukunonu in Series 2.

Detailed background information provided by Huntsman during the processing of the collection has been incorporated into all descriptive levels of the inventory. These details include the who, what, when and why type of contextual information that will be invaluable to future researchers.

Related archival material including an extensive collection of photographs taken by Huntsman during her fieldwork can be found in the Anthropology Photographic Archive and her recordings of Tokelauan folktales are held by the Archive of Maori and Pacific Music.


  • 1928 - 2012
  • Majority of material found within 1966 - 2011


Conditions Governing Access

PARTLY RESTRICTED. Access to items marked 'Restricted' requires the permission of the Special Collections Manager.

Biographical note

Judith Weber Huntsman was born in Chicago, Illinois in August 1935. She attended Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania, and then Brown University, Rhode Island, graduating with a M.A. in Anthropology in 1963 and a PhD from Bryn Mawr in 1969.

Huntsman first visited Tokelau in 1967 to undertake 12 months fieldwork for her PhD thesis: Kin and coconuts on a Polynesian atoll which examined the socio-economic organization of Nukunonu.

Working primarily in Atafu and Nukunonu Huntsman undertook a further 12 months fieldwork in 1969and 1970 followed by shorter visits in 1971, 1976, 1981, 1986, 1991 and 1997. She described her fieldwork as recording slices of time which together document a period of great change. In comparison to the late 1960s when she began her fieldwork, working for wages was now common, and most households had solid concrete or timber houses with iron roofs, aluminium boats with outboard motors, access to imported goods in local stores and good supplies of fresh water. The population had become more mobile with individuals moving to and from New Zealand or Australia for various lengths of time. However, Huntsman noted that much had remained constant over time including the role of the elders and the importance of village activities (Huntsman,2007, p.266.).

Huntsman has written widely about Tokelau the Pacific, including Tokelau: a historical ethnography, written with Antony Hooper in 1996, and The future of Tokelau: decolonising agendas, 1975–2006, written with Kelihiano Kalolo and published in 2007.

Huntsman joined the staff of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Auckland in 1970. In 2001 she retired as an associate professor and took up an appointment as Honorary Professorial Research Fellow in Social Anthropology. She has served on the council of the Polynesian Society, and since 1975 has been an editor of its journal the Journal of the Polynesian Society several times.


Huntsman, J., & Kalolo, K. (2007) The future of Tokelau: decolonising agendas, 1975-2006. Auckland, N.Z. : Auckland University Press.

Judith Huntsman, Social anthropologist, world expert on Tokelau. Retrieved from: . 2014, August 25.


18 metres (40 cartons + outsize material)

Language of Materials


Physical Location

In off-site storage. Expect delay of 12-24 hours from time of order.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Dr Judith Huntsman in 2012.


  • Huntsman, J., & Kalolo, K. (2007). The future of Tokelau: decolonising agendas, 1975-2006. Auckland, N.Z.: Auckland University Press.
  • Huntsman, J., & Hooper, A. (1996). Tokelau: a historical ethnography. Auckland, N.Z.: Auckland University Press.
  • Wessen, A. F.,Hooper,A., Huntsman, J., Prior, I.A.M., & Salmond,C.E. (1992). Migration and Health in a small society: The case of Tokelau.. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press.
  • Matagi Tokelau.(1990). Apia, Western Samoa : Office for Tokelau Affairs ; Suva, Fiji : Institute of Pacific Studies, University of the South Pacific.

Processing Information

Dr Huntsman first discussed the donation of her research papers to the University Library with Special Collections Manager Stephen Innes in 2011. An initial assessment of the collection was made at the time and in 2012 archivist Katherine Pawley was assigned the task of arranging and describing the collection.

A visit to Dr Huntsman’s house in August 2012 to carry out a more detailed assessment revealed the extent of the collection. Dr Huntsman’s papers were neatly stored in several rooms including her bedroom, hall and study in a number of filing cabinets which were all full. In addition there were rolls of maps and genealogies, and boxes of field notebooks in a corner of Dr Huntsman’s study. In general the material was in good condition and well organised, although groups of related material appeared to be housed in different locations.

Given the size of the collection and a shortage of space for processing at the Library it was decided to process her papers at Dr Huntsman’s house and transfer the materials directly to storage. Working on the collection one afternoon a week this process took about 18 months. In all some 40 cartons or 16 metres of material plus a number of maps and outsize material were transferred already rehoused into archival folders and boxes and fully listed.

During the course of the work Dr Huntsman was an active participant in the arrangement and description process, informing the final arrangement of collection, assisting with the description of material and even replacing rusty paperclips with archival quality ones. Her help with Tokelauan terminology, unfamiliar acronyms and duplicate material, proved invaluable and has without doubt added to the research value of the collection.

Inventory of the papers of Judith Huntsman, 1928-2012, bulk 1966-2011.
Katherine Pawley
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections, University of Auckland Repository

5 Alfred Street
Private Bag 92019
Auckland 1142 New Zealand