What's new

Latest updates from Te Ara, Te Tai and the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Last updated August 2023. 

Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

New entries and updates for Te Ara, the complete guide to New Zealand’s peoples, environment, history, culture and society, include:

Current events

Te Ara is so large – with almost 1,000 stories, each containing multiple pages, and thousands of images and other resources, it is tricky to keep up with the news. But we do try! Recently we updated several stories to acknowledge the death of Queen Elizabeth II, and the change of our head of state to King Charles III. Updates were also made to recognise the change of prime minister in February 2023. We are currently updating stories to acknowledge the disastrous weather events of early 2023.

Covid-19 has changed our lives in so many ways. We are gradually adding resources to Te Ara to take account of its impact. There are obvious places where Covid updates were needed, such as our Epidemics and Public Health pages, but we’ve been gradually adding mention of it in less obvious places such as our cruise ships page, our New Zealand Sign Language page, our history of Matatini (the long-running national kapa haka competitions) page and our skiing page. No doubt we will be adding references to Covid to reflect the pandemic’s influence on our lives for years to come.

Māori life, experience, and history updates 2023

We are currently refreshing our range of Te Ara stories about Māori life, experience, and history. We have been adding updates to cover developments since the stories were originally written and uploading new images and video resources. We have also been adding individuals’ iwi affiliations and increased the number of te reo words used in the English text. Updated stories include: Kapa haka, Kīngitanga – the Māori King movement, Ngā rōpū tautohetohe – Māori protest movements, and New Zealand Wars.

Other updates 2023

We have also updated and refreshed, with the help of the original authors, Claudia Orange and Janine Hayward, our stories about the Treaty of Waitangi, Biculturalism, and  Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi – ngā mātāpono o Te Tiriti o Waitangi. It was an interesting challenge to revisit stories written 15 years ago.

We have also just updated our story on Whitebait and Whitebaiting and on Search and Rescue, with the assistance of experts in these fields.

In preparation for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in July/August 2023, we substantially updated our Football story and added lots of new content on women’s football. We have updated our Olympic and Commonwealth Games story to take account of the record-breaking feats of our athletes in the Tokyo Summer Olympics 2020 (held in 2021), and the Beijing Winter Olympics 2022. Likewise our Paralympics page has been updated to reflect the achievements of our Paralympians in Tokyo and Beijing.

Updates in 2020–2022

We were pleased to have updated the Gender Diversity story in 2021. The revision, by Johanna Schmidt with the assistance of Gender Minorities Aotearoa, was mindful of significant shifts in language among Aotearoa’s gender-diverse communities since the story was written in 2011. We have also added many new resources to better reflect the multiple communities this story discusses. 

In September 2020, we launched our new Te Ara page, New Zealand Sign Language covering the history of the language, signing in deaf education, variation in signs across regions and time, the role of interpreters, and digital technology. This is the first Te Ara entry accompanied by video of sign language, interpreting the story. Rachel McKee wrote the entry was written for us, and Sonia Pivac translated it into sign.

In July 2020, we launched our updated entry about Climate Change, written for us by scientists from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA). Our understanding of the science is constantly evolving, so it was great to have had this entry updated.

The Coal and coal mining story was updated in light of the recent developments in coal mining in New Zealand, and new resources were added. 

Te Tai Treaty Settlement Stories / Te Tai Ngā Kōrero Whakatau O Te Tiriti

Recent stories (in both Te Reo and English) added to our digital storytelling programme that explores Treaty settlements and their enduring impact, Te Tai Treaty Settlement Stories, include:

Te Reo O Te Mana Māori - including biographies and timeline

Our newest Treaty Settlement story Te Mana o te Reo Māori was published online in September 2020, in partnership with Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori (Māori Language Commission). It includes a timeline of events, and 24 biographies of key people and organisations. See our press release here. All content is available in both English and te reo Māori.

Waikato–Tainui Treaty Settlement Story

The story of the Waikato-Tainui Treaty process and its enduring impact on the community was launched in September 2020, the 25th anniversary of settlement. See our press release here.

Ngati Porou

In February 2020, Ngati Porou shared their journey towards Te Tiriti settlement, including an educational resource and a documentary Moko Pu o Rongo.

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography / Ngā Tāngata Taumata Rau

Additions to the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography  the life stories for over 3,000 people who shaped our culture and history  include:

Revised entries 2023

We have just updated the entry on early suffragist Mary Muller. This essay was originally published in the first volume of the DNZB in 1990. Its author, Raewyn Dalziel, Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Auckland, has been doing additional research, with assistance from one of Mary’s descendants. This has allowed Raewyn to better understand Mary’s life story, and she kindly agreed to use her research to update the DNZB entry.

Historian Edmund Bohan has updated another older biography, that of educator Henry Tancred.

2023 update: New Zealand storytellers

Ngā Tāngata Taumata Rau Dictionary of New Zealand Biography (DNZB) is in the process of publishing a group of new biographies about New Zealand storytellers, people who made significant contributions to public conversations about New Zealand identity across a variety of mediums. Publication of these commenced in late 2022 and will continue through 2023. These entries have been published so far:

  • DNZB general editor Tim Shoebridge wrote about cartoonist Murray Ball, creator of the iconic ‘Footrot Flats’ cartoon strip, which celebrated New Zealand’s rural life and introduced its culture to the world.
  • Literary critic and biographer Ian Richards wrote about Ian Cross, author of the landmark novel The god boy (1957), editor of the New Zealand Listener (1973–7), and influential senior broadcasting official (1977–86).
  • Diana Morrow, historian and biographer, wrote about Otago poet Ruth Dallas, a distinctive voice in the world of mid-twentieth century New Zealand literature.
  • Tim Shoebridge also wrote about broadcaster Paul Holmes, the country’s most influential radio and television presenter during the 1990s, whose opinionated and confrontational style earned him both admiration and condemnation and sometimes tested the limits of acceptable public discourse.
  • Roger Robinson has written about novelist, poet and English professor M.K. Joseph, one of New Zealand's best-known creative writers of the 1960s and 1970s.
  • Former Te Ara general editor Jock Phillips has written about his friend Michael King, the best-known and most popular New Zealand historian of the 1980s and 1990s, who sought to communicate Māori culture to a wider audience and to celebrate the lives of New Zealand creative writers.
  • Ross Calman has written about Margaret Orbell, a Pākehā te reo Māori expert and scholar of Māori tradition.
  • Literary scholar Paul Millar wrote about novelist, essayist and educator Bill Pearson, author of the novel Coal Flat (1963) and the influential essay ‘Fretful sleepers’ (1952).
  • Historian Barbara Brookes wrote about Jean Wishart, editor of the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly, the country’s best-selling women’s magazine, from 1952 until 1985.
  • Historian Kate Jordan wrote about Auckland graphic designer Bill Haythornthwaite.
  • Manatū Taonga oral historian Emma-Jean Kelly wrote about artist Pauline Thompson.

Biographies to be published in 2023 include early film actor Maata Horomona, academic Hugh Kawharu, public commentator and intellectual Ranginui Walker, historian Alan Ward, filmmaker Merata Mita, museum professional Mina McKenzie, comedian John Clarke, and photographer, poet, musician and political analyst Les Cleveland.

See previous Dictionary of New Zealand Biography / Ngā Tāngata Taumata Rau notices