John Dunmore

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John Dunmore CNZM JP (born 6 August 1923)[1] is a New Zealand academic, historian, author, playwright, and publisher.


Dunmore was born in Trouville-sur-Mer, France, lived in Jersey under German Occupation during World War II, and then in England, where he received a BA from the University of London. He emigrated to New Zealand in 1950. He completed a PhD under historian J. C. Beaglehole at Victoria University of Wellington in 1962, studying the French contribution to the exploration of the Pacific Ocean in the 18th century. He was Professor of French, Head of the Department of Modern Languages, and Dean of Humanities at Massey University, from which he retired in 1985.[2]

Dunmore's main field of history is the exploration of the Pacific, particularly by French navigators. He has written two major biographies of La Pérouse, and translated and edited his journals (which he rediscovered after they had been misfiled in the French National Archives).[3] In addition, he has written biographies and edited the journals of both de Surville and of Bougainville. His biography of de Surville, The fateful voyage of the St. Jean Baptiste, won the Wattie Book of the Year award in 1970.[4]

His work is highly regarded by scholars as well as by the public:

  • "John Dunmore has done more than anyone to bring our attention to the achievements of eighteenth and nineteenth century French explorers of the Pacific"[5]
  • "cette étonnante biographie, élégamment écrite (this stunning and elegantly written biography (of Bougainville))"[6]
  • "The succinct and perceptive evaluation of the voyages and the Anglo-French rivalry is of great use"[7]

Dunmore has written a variety of other books, including a series of thrillers under the pseudonym "Jason Calder".[8] He has produced a book of 18th-century recipes, Mrs Cook's book of recipes for mariners in distant seas. Some of the recipes were derived from the logs of explorers of the day. He has also written plays,[9] held office in the Playwrights Association of New Zealand,[10] and written a history of the association.

In his capacity as professor of French, Dunmore was president of the New Zealand Federation des Alliances Francaises.

He established two separate publishing firms, the Dunmore Press (1969–1984) and Heritage Press (1985–2004).[11] The Dunmore Press, a substantial New Zealand publisher of academic books, eventually became part of the Thomson publishing group, in 2004.[12]

Honours and awards[edit]

In 1990, Dunmore was awarded the New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal.[1] In the 2001 Queen's Birthday Honours, he was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to literature and historical research.[13]

The French Government appointed Dunmore as a Chevalier dans la Légion d'honneur (Knight of the Legion of Honor) in 1976, and an Officier dans l'Ordre des Palmes académiques (Officer of the Academic Palms) in 1986.[14] He was promoted to Officier de la Légion d'honneur (Officer of the Legion of Honor) in 2007, becoming only the tenth New Zealander to hold this level of the order[15] and the third New Zealander to be promoted to the superior rank of Officer after Lieutenant Colonel James Waddell and Nancy Wake.[16]

Massey University awarded Dunmore an honorary DLitt degree in 2006.[4] Fellow Pacific scholars honoured him with a Festschrift: Cropp, Glynnis M; Noel R Watts; Roger D J Collins; K R Howe, eds. (2005). Pacific journeys: Essays in honour of John Dunmore. Wellington, New Zealand: Victoria University Press. ISBN 0-86473-507-3.

The Dunmore Medal for research into French achievements and development in the Pacific is named after him.[17]

New Zealand Order of Merit ribbon.png Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (New Zealand) 2001
New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal ribbon.png New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal (New Zealand) 1990
Legion Honneur Officier ribbon.svg Officer de la Légion d'Honneur (France) 2007
Palmes academiques Officier ribbon.svg Officier de la Palmes académiques (France) 1986

See also[edit]

List of foreign recipients of the Légion d'Honneur
List of Foreign recipients of the Ordre des Palmes Académiques


This list of books by Dunmore is representative but by no means complete. He has also written many articles, book chapters, reviews, plays and other items. A list of his scholarly writings to 2005 is included in Pacific Journeys at pp. 15–19.


Translated and edited journals of explorers[edit]

Other historical works[edit]


"Jason Calder" is a pseudonym for John Dunmore.



  1. ^ a b Taylor, Alister; Coddington, Deborah (1994). Honoured by the Queen – New Zealand. Auckland: New Zealand Who's Who Aotearoa. p. 128. ISBN 0-908578-34-2.
  2. ^ These facts are from pp. 9–11 of Pacific Journeys.
  3. ^ Pacific Journeys, p. 12.
  4. ^ a b Massey News Article – Champion of the Humanities Archived 4 May 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ CCS – Book Reviews Part 9
  6. ^ "Storms and Dreams" de John Dunmore (mars 2005) – La France en Nouvelle-Zélande Archived 8 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Review by Samuel Clyde McCulloch in The Journal of Modern History, Vol. 43, No. 3 (September 1971), p. 518.
  8. ^ Pacific Journeys, p. 13.
  9. ^ Pacific Journeys, p. 13. See also An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand at
  10. ^ Panz Contacts Archived 4 October 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Pacific Journeys, p. 13. See also "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 25 December 2006.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ Cengage Imprints
  13. ^ "Queen's Birthday honours list 2001". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 4 June 2001. Retrieved 31 October 2019.
  14. ^ pp. 9–11 of Pacific Journeys.
  15. ^ Dunmore promoted to Officer of the Legion of Honour[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ M. Brewer, 'New Zealand and the Legion d'honneur: Officiers, Commandeurs and Dignites', The Volunteers: The Journal of the New Zealand Military Historical Society, 35(3), March 2010, pp.131–147.
  17. ^ Award of the Dunmore Medal "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 July 2011. Retrieved 22 August 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External links[edit]