An archivist by day and author by night, Jared Davidson is a writer and historian based in Wellington, New Zealand. His work has appeared in The Guardian, Overland, History Workshop Journal, Radical Futures, The Spinoff and other publications. Dead Letters won the Bert Roth Award for Labour History, was shortlisted for the W.H. Oliver Prize for best book on any aspect of New Zealand history and longlisted for the Ockham New Zealand Book Award for General Non-Fiction.

Jared’s latest book is about the unfree work of prisoners. Forced labour haunts the streets we walk and the spaces we take for granted, weaving its way through every major urban centre, across the pastured grasslands of heartland New Zealand and into Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa, the Pacific. Yet it is a story that is largely unknown. Combining social and environmental history with narrative nonfiction, Blood and Dirt: Prison Labour and the Making of New Zealand (forthcoming in early 2023 with BWB Bridget Williams Books) explores prison labour from the Church Missionary Society’s use of convicts in 1814 to the state prison farms of the 1920s, including New Zealand’s Pacific.



Photo by Mark Beatty


Writing for The Spinoff, ‘The shady origins of New Zealand’s pine plantations’ explores the forced labour and dodgy dealings that formed our early forestry. The pine plantation, then and now, is rooted within a world of power, profit and cheap nature.


Published by Bridget Williams Books, 2021


Published by Otago University Press, 2019

WINNER of the Bert Roth Award for Labour History
HIGHLY COMMENDED for the W.H. Oliver Prize for Best Book on Any Aspect of New Zealand History
Shortlisted for the NZSA Heritage Book Awards
Longlisted for the Ockham New Zealand Book Award for General Non-Fiction


Published by AK Press, 2013

Shortlisted for the Bert Roth Award for Labour History
Shortlisted for the PANZ Book Design Awards


Published by Rebel Press, 2011



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