After completing a BSc, majoring in geography, Julia undertook a variety of work including track guiding and beekeeping, before settling on a museum career.
She started at the Lakes District Museum in 1993 where she worked on exhibitions about Chinese goldminers and women, and completed a publication on the history of scheelite mining at Glenorchy. From 2000 to 2017 she was Director of Hokitika Museum on the West Coast working on numerous exhibitions on local topics. During this time, she published four books.
As the Museum’s Senior Curator Human History Julia works on various projects connected to the Museum’s extensive collection. She is continues her research on Chinese-European marriages, women on the New Zealand goldfields, women in Canterbury Museum’s collection and South Westland. She has also added post-contact use of pounamu to her list of research topics. She has presented the results of her research at numerous conferences.
Julia is a committee member with PHANZA (Professional Historians Association of New Zealand Aotearoa) and was a member of the reference group associated with the development of interpretation at Te Whare Waiutuutu Kate Sheppard House. She was also a member of the group that organised the Haast 200 Symposium in 2022 and played a leading role in the production of Canterbury Museum Bulletin 11 which focuses on the achievements of the Museum’s founder, Sir Julius von Haast.