Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

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Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand
Te Ara New Zealand Encyclopedia, logo.png
Type of site
Online encyclopedia
Available inEnglish, Māori
Headquarters Wellington, New Zealand
Owner Ministry for Culture and Heritage
URL www.teara.govt.nz
Current statusFirst build completed 2014

Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand is an online encyclopedia established in 2001 by the New Zealand Government's Ministry for Culture and Heritage. [1] The web-based content was developed in stages over the next several years; the first sections were published in 2005, and the last in 2014 marking its completion. [2] Te Ara means "the pathway" in the Māori language, and contains over three million words in articles from over 450 authors. Over 30,000 images and video clips are included from thousands of contributors. [3]



New Zealand's first recognisable encyclopedia was The Cyclopedia of New Zealand , a commercial venture compiled and published between 1897 and 1908 in which businesses or people usually paid to be covered. In 1966 the New Zealand Government published An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand , its first official encyclopedia, in three volumes. Although now superseded by Te Ara, its historical importance led to its inclusion as a separate digital resource within the Te Ara website. [4]

Te Ara was developed between 2001 and 2014 and edited by historian Jock Phillips, who oversaw a full-time staff of about 20 writers, editors, image and resource researchers and designers during its creation. [5] In 2010 during the development of the encyclopedia, the decision was made to integrate the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography into Te Ara. [6] On completion of the work in 2014, Jock Phillips' contribution to the project was recognised with a Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement. [7] The encyclopedia entered a maintenance phase and is now kept updated by a dedicated research team within the Ministry for Culture and Heritage.


The encyclopedia is organised into several sections by broad themes, and entries on topics relating substantially to Māori culture are published in both Māori and English languages. The encyclopedia launched in 2005 with the first theme, focused on telling the stories of New Zealanders. It covers the migration of peoples to New Zealand, and the history of their settlement – both New Zealand's indigenous Māori and other groups. An overview section, "New Zealand in Brief", presents concise information and facts about the country. "Earth, Sea and Sky" published in 2006 covers ocean fish, sea and shorebirds and other marine life, the interactions of people and the sea, the country's natural resources, and shaping forces such as geology, volcanology, weather and climate. Distinctively New Zealand features are the main focus of the content, and scientific and technical data is presented within its social and human context. In 2007, "The Bush" was published, covering New Zealand's indigenous landscapes, forests, plants and animals, and the ways that people have used them or attempted to understand them. Topics also include early mapping, tramping, conifer–broadleaf forests, native fauna, taniwha, Māori exploration, threatened species, and logging native forests. [8] Later themes were "The Settled Landscape" (2008), "Economy and the City" (2010), "Social Connections" (2010), "Government and Nation" (2012), "Daily Life, Sport and Recreation" (2013), and "Creative and Intellectual Life" (2014). [9]

Colorful stripes (Website element) used in the online edition of Te Ara. Each colour signifies a different section of content. Colorful stripes of "Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand".png
Colorful stripes (Website element) used in the online edition of Te Ara. Each colour signifies a different section of content.

See also

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  1. Phillips, Jock (2003). "The Online Encyclopedia of New Zealand: Te Ara". New Zealand Journal of History . 37 (1): 80–89. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  2. "Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand". Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. 29 January 2016. Archived from the original on 19 January 2020. Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  3. Butcher, Nick (23 October 2014). "Te Ara – Encyclopedia of NZ completed". Radio New Zealand. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  4. "1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand". Te Ara. Manatū Taonga / Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 16 May 2009.
  5. McCarthy, Angela (5 March 2008). "My job: Researcher, the Encyclopedia of New Zealand". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  6. "Te Ara – a history – Biographies". Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  7. Manatū Taonga / Ministry For Culture And Heritage (20 October 2014). "Jock Phillips receives PM's Award for Literary Achievement" (Press release). Scoop Media. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  8. Brown-May, Andrew (2007). "Review – Te Ara: The Online Encyclopedia of New Zealand". New Zealand Journal of History. 41 (2): 227–229. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  9. "Who is Te Ara?". Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 12 November 2016.