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There are three major strands to Professor Roche’s writing and research that have been developed over the last 30 years: ‘historical geography’, Agrifood studies, and Geographic Thought
His major long term substantive research focus has been on forests. and forestry in NZ.. Research outputs in this area include his definitive works Forest Policy in New Zealand: An Historical Geography 1840-1919 (1984) and History of Forestry in New Zealand (1990). Unusual for a geographer, he has produced a number of biographical studies on major figures in the forestry sector for the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. More recently this work has used networked approaches to empire to explore the flows of ideas, people and materials in the forestry sector.
Another long term research project has centred on society and environment in New Zealand in the interwar period. A focus of his efforts here has been the discharged soldier settlement scheme. His detailed archival research has indicated that ‘failure’ took several forms and was not as monolithic as the historiography suggests nor was it one of total failure; there were some overlooked success stories.
As the co-investigator in a Social Science Research Fund project on ‘Food and Fibre Production’ he worked on two newly emergent theorisations – ‘pluriactivity’ and ‘subsumption’ in sheep/beef and dairy commodity production systems in the late 1980s and early 1990s. A follow on project with collaborators from the University of Auckland was supported by a Massey University Post-Doctoral Fellowship focused on pip fruit. Work from this productive project contributed to the international debates on Food Regimes and commodity chains and formed part of a distinctively Australasian critique of the political economy of agriculture. This work has been continued as part of the Marsden funded ‘Biological Economies’ project.
Geographic thought is another been long standing research interest. His work has included discussion of the genesis and importance of early text books such as Patrick Marshall’s Geography of New Zealand (1912) and the regional perspective of George Jobbern’s World Regional Geography of the 1930s. His interest in Jobberns is reflected in the recent publication of ‘A Geographer by Declaration’ (2010) which brings together a selection of Jobberns’ published and unpublished writing. He also published on Andrew Clark another figure in NZ geography who gained an international reputation as well as editing a virtual issue of the NZ Geographer featuring the work of Kenneth Cumberland.
Aspects of this research informs my teaching in 145.111 and 145.318 (Geopolitics) and 145.214 (historical geography), and 145.711 (Foundations of Human Geography).
Michael Roche’s research interests include historical geography especially colonial forestry and landscape transformation, contemporary agrifood studies, and the history of geographic thought especially as it relates to NZ. He has contributed to the New Zealand Historical Atlas, the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, the and Te Ara and has edited or co-edited Engaging Geographies (2014), A Geographer by Declaration: Selected Writings of George Jobberns (2010), Past Matters; Heritage and Planning History (2007) and (Dis)Placing Empire: Renegotiating British Colonial Geographies (2005).
Landscape transformation in NZ
Colonial forestry networks
WWI discharged soldier settlement
history of NZ university geography
21st Century Citizenship, Resource Development and Management, Future Food Systems
Field of research codes
Human Geography (160400): Human Geography not elsewhere classified (160499): Studies In Human Society (160000)
Project Title: Hybrid Nature in New Zealand Domains
Date Range: 2010 - 2011
Funding Body: Massey University
Project Title: Soldier home and farm loans
Date Range: 2007 - 2008
Funding Body: Massey University
145.111 Society Environment and Place
145.712 Frontiers of human geography