My publications

A little light reading…

I write for scholarly and wider audiences alike. I am the sole author of all publications unless otherwise noted.


André Brett (text) and Sam van der Weerden (maps), Can’t Get There from Here: New Zealand’s Shrinking Passenger Rail Network, 1920–2020. Otago University Press, to be released September 2021.

Stuart Macintyre, André Brett, and Gwilym Croucher. No End of a Lesson: Australia’s Unified National System of Higher Education. Melbourne University Publishing, 2017. Buy here.

Acknowledge No Frontier: The Creation and Demise of New Zealand’s Provinces, 1853–76. Otago University Press, 2016. Buy here.

André Brett, Gwilym Croucher, and Stuart Macintyre. Life After Dawkins: The University of Melbourne in the Unified National System of Higher Education, 1988–1996. Melbourne University Publishing, 2016. Buy here.


William B. Lacy, Gwilym Croucher, André Brett, and Romina Mueller. Australian Universities at a Crossroads: Insights from Their Leaders and Implications for the Future. Melbourne: Centre for the Study of Higher Education, 2018. Read online (open access).

Book chapters

‘“I’m Not Even Making That Up”: The Moriori Myth and Denials of Indigeneity in New Zealand’. In History in a Post-Truth World: Theory and Praxis, edited by Marius Gudonis and Benjamin T. Jones, 199–217. London: Routledge, 2020. Buy book here. (Given the steep price, ask your library to order it!)

‘“Playing Sad Havoc with Our Forests”: Foresters Versus Sleeper Hewers in Late Colonial Victoria’. In Australia’s Ever-Changing Forests VII, edited by Sue Feary and Rob Robinson. Canberra: Australian Forest History Society, 2016. Read online (open access).

‘Wooden Rails and Gold: Southland and the Demise of the Provinces’. In Rushing for Gold: Life and Commerce on the Goldfields of New Zealand and Australia, edited by Lloyd Carpenter and Lyndon Fraser, 253–70. Dunedin: Otago University Press, 2016. Buy book here.

Journal articles

If you cannot access any of the paywalled articles below, contact me. I will not see a cent of the fees that multinational publishers charge for access—don’t waste your money.

‘“The Exceptional Circumstances Under Which We Are Working”: Railways and Water in Australasia, 1870s to 1914’, History Australia, 17:3 (2020), 489–509. Read online (paywalled).

André Brett and Simon Ville, ‘Coping with Climate Extremes: Railways and Pastoralism in the Federation Drought, 1895–1903’, Environment and History (2020), online fast-track (paywalled).

‘Claims, Confusion, and Status: Which City Is New Zealand’s Oldest?’, New Zealand Geographer, 76:1 (2020), 62–70. Read online (open access).

‘Railways and Floods in Nineteenth-Century New Zealand’, New Zealand Journal of History, 53:2 (2019), 5–31. Read online (paywalled now; open access two years after publication).

‘Railways and the Exploitation of Victoria’s Forests, 1880s–1920s’, Australian Economic History Review, 59:2 (2019), 159–80. Read online (paywalled).

‘Colonial and Provincial Separation Movements in Australia and New Zealand, 1856–1865’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 47:1 (2019), 51–75. Read online (paywalled).

‘Lahar Meets Locomotive: New Zealand’s Tangiwai Railway Disaster of Christmas Eve 1953’, Arcadia, 31 (2018). Read online (open access).

‘The Victorian College of Pharmacy: A Case Study of Amalgamation Failure and Success in Australian Higher Education’, History of Education, 47:5 (2018), 644–62. Read online (paywalled).

‘Australia and the Secretive Exploitation of the Chatham Islands to 1842’, Journal of Australian Studies, 41:1 (2017), 96–112. Highly commended, 2017 Barrett Prize. Read online (open access).

‘A Sudden Fancy for Tree Planting? Forest Conservation and the Demise of New Zealand’s Provinces’, Environment and History, 23:1 (2017), 123–45. Read online (paywalled).

‘Did War Cause the Abolition of New Zealand’s Provincial System?’, History Australia, 12:2 (2015), 166–88. Read online (open access).

‘“The Miserable Remnant of this Ill-Used People”: Colonial Genocide and the Moriori of New Zealand’s Chatham Islands’, Journal of Genocide Research, 17:2 (2015), 133–52. Read online (paywalled).

‘Dreaming on a Railway Track: Public Works and the Demise of New Zealand’s Provinces’, Journal of Transport History, 36:1 (2015), 77–96. Read online (paywalled).

‘A Limited Express or Stopping All Stations? Railways and Nineteenth-Century New Zealand’, Journal of New Zealand Studies, 16 (2013), 133–49. Read online (open access).

‘The Great Kiwi (Dis)Connect: The New Provinces Act and its Consequences’. Melbourne Historical Journal, 40 (2012), 129–48. Winner, 2013 Fellows’ Essay Prize. Read online (open access).

Other media (selected)

This section contains a sample of my work in newspapers, television, museums, and blogs.

‘“Some of the Choicest Specimens of Plant Life”: Tree-Planting by Government Railways in Australasia pre-WWI’, in John Dargavel and Ben Wilkie, eds, Restoring Forests in Times of Contagion: Papers to Celebrate John Evelyn on the Occasion of his 400th Birthday, Australian and New Zealand Environmental History Network, read online (open access).

The Chocolate Factory: Inside Cadbury Australia (Mint Pictures). Broadcast 11 April 2020, SBS TV. Credited as: Researcher.

‘A New Zealand Christmas Eve Tragedy’, Railway Work, Life and Death blog, 23 December 2019, read online (open access).

The Kimberley Cruise: Australia’s Last Great Wilderness (Mint Pictures). Broadcast 13 January 2019, SBS TV. Credited as: Historian.

The Indian Pacific: Australia’s Longest Train Journey (Mint Pictures). Broadcast 6 January 2019, SBS TV. Credited as: Historian.

‘André Brett’s Submission on the Proposal to Rename Victoria University’, Arathi: Professor Geoff McLay’s Law Blog, 30 August 2018, read online (open access).

‘Why Deleting Victoria from the Name of Wellington’s University Is a Terrible Idea’, The Spinoff, 6 August 2018, read online (open access).

The Ghan: Australia’s Greatest Train Journey (Mint Pictures). Broadcast 7 January 2018, SBS TV. Also broadcast October 2018, BBC4. Credited as: Historian.

‘Bob Hawke’s Narrative on Abolishing the States Is Nonsense’. Guardian Australia, 4 January 2017, read online (open access).

Exhibition: ‘The Anzac Battlefield: Landscape of War and Memory’. Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne. 13 April–31 August 2015. (Researcher and writer of University of Melbourne-related content; copyeditor of all content.)

Australia: The Story of Us (Essential Media). Broadcast February–April 2015, Channel 7. Credited as: Researcher.

‘Post-1945 Conflicts’ commemorative panel near cenotaph, South Lawn, University of Melbourne. Unveiled 2014. (Researcher and writer of University-related content.)

‘Tangiwai Survivor’s Story Shared After Death’ (Tangiwai railway disaster sixtieth anniversary feature). Dominion Post, 24 December 2013, and syndicated across Fairfax New Zealand mastheads. Read online (open access).

Exhibition: 160th anniversary of the University of Melbourne, University Hall, University of Melbourne. 16 panels unveiled December 2013 for long-term display. Researcher and writer of all content, including web feature (open access).

‘Clues Among the Wreckage’ (Hyde railway disaster seventieth anniversary feature). Otago Daily Times, 1 June 2013, read online (open access).

Reviewer praise for my book Acknowledge No Frontier: The Creation and Demise of New Zealand’s Provinces, 1853–76.

“He makes a powerful case and his account should stand the test of time … In sum, André Brett has breathed new (OK, awesome) life into old-fashioned political history.

Malcolm Prentis in the Journal of New Zealand Studies.

Acknowledge No Frontier is an important book … Brett exhibits an excellent command of his sources and there are many lively touches in his writing … he has produced a work that contains much for scholars and teachers of New Zealand history to grapple with, and plenty for a general reader with an interest in politics to enjoy.

Jane McCabe in Landfall.

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