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Bunkle, Phillida

 Fonds — Multiple Containers
Identifier: bunp


  • 1958-2001

Biographical/Historical note

Bunkle, Phillida

Missing Title


VUW Authors index note:

BA (Keele), MA (Smith, Mass.)

History: Lecturer, 1973-1981

Arts Faculty (Women's Studies): Lecturer, 1978-81; Sr. Lect. 1982.

Barrowman centennial VUW history notes:

Chapter 5:

"A slower reform, but an area in which Victoria took a lead, was in the position of women in the university. Victoria was the first university in New Zealand by 10 years to establish an organisation of women staff, in 1975 (as well as the first to introduce women's studies, the same year). This coincided, of course, with the flowering of 'women's lib', as well as reflecting changes in the institution itself, in the number and the makeup of its members. Germaine Greer visited New Zealand, and Victoria, in March 1972, and the first national women's liberation conference was held at the university in April. In its wake, and in response to an approach from students, Ngaire Adcock (senior lecturer in psychology) took three proposals to the faculties of arts and languages and literature: for the appointment of a dean of women, and of women to appointment committees, and the introduction of women's studies. At a meeting called by linguistics lecturer Janet Holmes and history lecturer Phillida Bunkle, most (certainly not all) of the university's women staff supported the cause. There were some 40 of them among the full-time academic staff, but they were unevenly distributed across faculties: none in law, four in science and two in commerce: they made up around 3% of these faculties; 22% of arts, languages and literature. There were three women professors out of 66.

The proposal for a dean of women was rejected, but the Professorial Board convened a committee on the status of women members of the academic staff, on whose recommendation the Association of Women Academics was founded. This was a somewhat different affair from the Women Associates of Victoria University College that had been formed in the early 1940s - a social committee of staff wives and women students whose main activity was acting as hostesses at college functions. Its aims were to protect and promote the interests of women staff, and to undertake research relating to university women, and support and encourage their academic work. In the 1980s it tackled the more specific issues of sexist language and sexual harassment. Correcting the gender imbalance of the university staff, though, was a larger project than changing its culture. By 1990, nearly 30% of Victoria's academic staff, but only 8% of its professors, were women."

Chapter 10

The first women's studies programme in a New Zealand university was pioneered at Victoria in 1975 by Phillida Bunkle, who was ‘job-sharing’ (itself an innovation) with her husband Jock Phillips teaching American history, and who had not long since been at Smith College, Massachusetts, where feminist studies was taught. Women's studies was an interdisciplinary affair (which was in vogue then) that would develop its stronger links with languages and literature. Overseen by a board of studies convened initially by another member of History's 'monstrous regiment', Beryl Hughes, it was carried on, against odds (but by the commitment of its students and staff), with the smallest of 'fractional' establishments. The first Women in Society course was co-ordinated by Bunkle from History until her formal appointment to a less than half-time faculty position in 1978. Jacquie Matthews from the French Department joined her, part time at first, to co-ordinate the second paper, Images of Women, in 1979. They were managing five undergraduate courses (including Feminism and Social Theory, Biography and Autobiography, and Feminist Writing) and an honours research paper by the late 1980s, when a women's studies major was introduced (by the expedient of double-labelling). Theory was to remain the weak link. Other universities had not been too slow to catch on to the feminist studies wave, and by the time the question of departmental status was being considered in the mid-1990s Victoria had fallen a little behind in both its establishment and academic strength.'

Wikipedia note:

. . . [Phillida Bunkle] was an MP from 1996 to 2002, representing the Alliance.

Bunkle joined the Green Party (a member of the Alliance) in 1992, and unsuccessfully stood as an Alliance candidate in the 1993 elections. In the 1996 elections, she was elected to Parliament as a list MP. When the Green Party left the Alliance, Bunkle opted not to follow them. After the 1999 elections, in which Bunkle was re-elected, she became a Minister outside Cabinet in the new Labour-Alliance coalition government, serving Minister of Customs and Minister of Consumer Affairs. She resigned these roles after a controversy surrounding her claims for a residential allowance, although she was later cleared of any deliberate wrongdoing. When the Alliance began to collapse in 2002, Bunkle sided with Jim Anderton's faction, but decided not to seek re-election.

Preliminary Series notes:

UK papers pre-1970

USA papers 1970-1972

VUW Women's Studies material 1973-96?


National Women's and Cartwright Inquiry

Gisborne Inquiry

Fertility Action

Sweating Commission

Health Research papers - by issue

Subject boxes - by issue

Political papers

Family and personal papers

Full note


200 linear_centimeters

Language of Materials



Copies of Cabinet Papers with no annotations have been destroyed on the basis that a complete set is retained by Archives New Zealand (reference to Cabinet Office Policy). To date, the following records have been disposed of: A2007/64 Box 12 'Cabinet Papers' - destroyed 41 cm, retained with annotations 2 cm.

Administrative Information

All text and images are copyright to Victoria University of Wellington. Enquiries for re-use should be made in the first instance to the J C Beaglehole Room, VUW Library.

J C Beaglehole Room - archives and manuscripts
Edited Full Draft
Nicola Frean
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Finding aid is written inEnglish
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Repository Details

Part of the J C Beaglehole Room, Victoria University of Wellington Library Repository

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