What's new

Latest updates from Te Ara, Te Tai and the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Last updated September 2022. 

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:


We have just 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 Toyko and Beijing.

Gender Diversity

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 diverse communities this story discusses. 

Coal and Coal Mining

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


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. 

New Zealand Sign language

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 to be accompanied by video of sign language, interpreting the story. The entry was written for us by Rachel McKee and translated into sign by Sonia Pivac.

Climate Change

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 of climate change is changing all the time, so it was great to have had this entry updated.

Flash Project

In 2020 we upgraded about 350 Adobe Flash resources with alternatives that are more accessible and responsive (so will work on mobile devices as well as desktops). Flash is no longer supported by modern browsers. We have been updating interactive diagrams, graphs, maps, video, audio and other resources.

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

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

December 2022 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Biographies to be published in 2023 include early film actress Maata Horomona, academic Hugh Kawharu, public commentator and intellectual Ranginui Walker, geographer and television presenter Kenneth Cumberland, conservation writer Geoff Park, historian Alan Ward, graphic designer Bill Haythornthwaite, museum professional Mina McKenzie, comedian John Clarke, novelist M.K. Joseph, scholar of Māori tradition Margaret Orbell, and photographer, poet, musician and political analyst Les Cleveland.

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