The scholar who lived and breathed gangs for a decade to research his doctorate is beginning work on his new book, about murders in New Zealand.

As part of his PhD thesis, Dr Jarrod Gilbert spent 10 years with the country's most notorious gangs researching his book Patched: The history of Gangs in New Zealand, which recently won the New Zealand Post Book Awards People's Choice Award.

Today, the University of Canterbury gang lecturer launched a Facebook page called Murder: A New Zealand History, to begin research for his next book.

"I want to take interested people through the process as to how the book is researched and written. For me it's a tough, torturous process, from a concept through to the finished product," said Dr Gilbert.


He said the project was even more ambitious than his last, which saw him physically threatened a number of times as he immersed himself in a subculture most New Zealanders feared and avoided.

"Certain murders have gripped New Zealand, titillating, outraging, or sharply dividing the public. Most often, a great deal is known about these events but Murder will look at more than the events themselves by examining what these killings say about New Zealand and how they reflected our society at the time," he said.

"The history of murder in this country becomes a history of New Zealand more generally. Murder will cast light on important parts of New Zealand history that are hitherto unexplored."

Dr Gilbert has worked alongside the Howard League for Penal Reform, the Department of Corrections, the New Zealand Police and key university experts, including criminologist Professor Greg Newbold.

This will help him find research participants, as well as databases and files necessary to carry out the book project, he said.