Natalie Looyer

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PhD Candidate in History
School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations


MA in Classics, University of Canterbury, 2019

BA (Hons) in Classics, University of Canterbury, 2016


Thesis working title: Revolutions and evolutions in rock climbing in Aotearoa, c.1960-2020

I embarked on my PhD research at Te Herenga Waka after bringing together my academic interest in oral history and my personal love for rock climbing. I have always been interested in sports history; following my BA in Classics at the University of Canterbury (UC), I produced a Master’s thesis on athletic victory odes in ancient Greek literature. During my MA, I also embarked on my first extensive oral history project, which explored the life of Marion Steven, the founder of the James Logie Memorial Collection of antiquities and one of UC’s first female academic Readers. My fascination with oral history took over and I continued to be involved in a number of oral history projects for organisations like the Canterbury Regional Council, Engineering New Zealand and some local historical societies in South Canterbury.

My PhD research includes a series of oral history interviews that I have conducted with past and present rock climbers, who have been instrumental in the development of rock climbing in Aotearoa from the 1970s through to the present day. I am thrilled to be able to use the oral history research approach to inform and enrich my research. I have also been lucky to work recently as a research assisant on an oral history project looking at the development of the Oranjehof Dutch exhibition at the Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom Community Centre in Foxton.


Professor of History
School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations

Associate Professor
Stout Research Centre


Looyer, Natalie. ‘The ambivalent heroism of Ajax in the Odes of Pindar’, MA thesis, University of Canterbury, 2019.

Looyer, Natalie. ‘Academic legacy: A life history through collective memory’, Oral History in New Zealand 31 (2019): 1-11.

Looyer, Natalie. ‘“She would always be there”: The (im)material life and home of Miss Marion Steven’, in Anna Green and Megan Hutching (eds), Remembering and Becoming: Oral History, Dunedin: Otago University Press, 2024 (forthcoming).

Looyer, Natalie. ‘Sport climbers and helmets – a culture of complacency?’ New Zealand Alpine Journal 79 (2024) (forthcoming).