Michael Bassett is New Zealand’s best-known political historian. He is the author of fifteen books, nearly all of them with a political theme. His specialty is political biography. He was also a regular columnist for the Fairfax newspapers the Dominion, the Dominion-Post, the Press and the Waikato Times for about six years. In 2004 he won the Qantas Media Award for Best Political Columnist in New Zealand. He still writes occasional articles and reviews for newspapers and also does radio interviews about politics.
Dr Bassett was New Zealand’s Minister of Health and Local Government between 1984 and 1987, and then Minister of Internal Affairs, Local Government, Civil Defence and Arts and Culture between 1987 and 1990.
He has taught history at the University of Auckland and was J.B. Smallman Professor of History at the University of Western Ontario during the early 1990s. He was Fulbright Professor of New Zealand History at Georgetown University in Washington DC in 2002. He spent ten years (1994-2004) as a tribunal member of the Waitangi Tribunal that deals with claims by New Zealand’s first settlers, the Maori. Between 2009 and 2013 he was a Board member of the Museum of New Zealand: Te Papa Tongarewa.
In the New Year’s Honours 2018 Dr Bassett was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) for his services to history.