About this site

Read a history of the Te Ara project.

What is Te Ara?

‘Te ara’ in Māori means ‘the pathway’. Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand offers many pathways to understanding New Zealand. It is a comprehensive guide to the country’s peoples, natural environment, history, culture, economy, institutions and society. As an encyclopedia founded on historical principles, it is written mainly in the past tense.

Te Ara consists of a series of sections, which have appeared progressively between 2005 and 2014:

New Zealand in Brief gives concise information and essential facts about New Zealand.

In addition there are features on:

Māori Te Ara

An important feature of Te Ara is its Māori content. The Māori perspective is presented with each section, and stories with substantial Māori content are available in te reo Māori (the Māori language).

Publication dates

At the end of each page on Te Ara is listed the date of original publication of the story that page appears in. You will also see if some content in the story has been updated (‘updated on…’),  or if a full revision of the story has been undertaken (’reviewed and revised on…’), since the original publication.

1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand

This was New Zealand’s last official encyclopedia. It is published here in full, with all the original drawings, maps and photographs. The information has not been updated or corrected, but we have incorporated the corrigenda published with the original three volumes.

The editor of the encyclopedia was New Zealand’s parliamentary historian, Dr Alexander Hare McLintock. He and his team of two, with 359 other contributors, compiled over 1,800 general articles and 900 biographies.

The content was presented in alphabetical order, with some subjects grouped under broader headings, such as ‘Defence’ or ‘Education’. We have broken down many of these into smaller topics.

In 1966 the world looked rather different. Some issues which today have revealed their complexity were then regarded as clear cut. Others which received extensive treatment are no longer of burning interest. New discoveries have made some of the encyclopedia’s factual information outdated, and some articles seem old fashioned as we gain new perspectives on the world. Nevertheless it is a mine of useful information, and a fascinating opportunity to travel back in time and experience a state-of-the-art encyclopedia from the mid-20th century.

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography forms part of Te Ara. It includes the definitive texts of all the biographies previously published in print, and additional biographies which are available only online. It also includes te reo Māori versions of all the biographies relating to Māori subjects. New biographies are added each year. Read more about the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography.