What's new

Latest updates from Te Ara, Te Tai and the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Last updated November 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 around 25 thousand images and other resources, it is tricky to keep up with the news. But we do try! For example, in September 2022 we updated many stories to acknowledge the death of Queen Elizabeth II and the change of our head of state to King Charles III.

As we do after every general election, after the 2023 election we did a major update of our election resources to illustrate the changing political landscape. For example, we updated this resource showing the ethnic diversity of MPs, the summary of the number of seats held by each party in the House of Representatives, and lots of others.

We also updated a number of stories, including our Floods story, to acknowledge the disastrous weather events of early 2023.

COVID-19 has changed our lives in so many ways. We have completed a major update to our Epidemics story, and other stories as needed. No doubt we will be adding references to COVID to reflect the pandemic’s influence on our lives for years to come.

Other updates 2023–2024

We recently did a major refresh of our Family ViolenceChild Abuse and Violent Crime stories, and added new content to our Feature Film and Fire and Fire Services stories.

We also updated Te Ara stories about Māori history and experience, including by adding new images and video resources, to cover developments since the stories were originally written. We have also been adding individuals’ iwi affiliations and increasing the use of te reo words in the English text. Updated stories include: Kapa hakaKīngitanga – the Māori King movementNgā rōpū tautohetohe – Māori protest movements, and New Zealand Wars.

We have also updated and refreshed, with the help of the original authors, Claudia Orange and Janine Hayward, our stories about the Treaty of WaitangiBiculturalism, 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 been fortunate to work with experts in various fields to update other stories, including Disability Sport, Whitebait and Whitebaiting and Search and Rescue.

In preparation for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in July/August 2023, we substantially updated our Football story, adding 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 at the most recent winter and summer Olympics.

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:

2024 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 conclude in 2024. 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.
  • Ian Pryor has written about New Zealand comedian, actor, musician and director John Clarke.
  • Writer and researcher Lawrence McDonald has written about journalist, photographer, political scientist, musician, composer, broadcaster, poet, bushman, mountaineer Les Cleveland.
  • 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).
  • Geographer Eric Pawson wrote about geographer, broadcaster, local body politician and farmer Kenneth Cumberland.
  • Diana Morrow, historian and biographer, wrote about Otago poet Ruth Dallas, a distinctive voice in the world of mid-twentieth century New Zealand literature.
  • Historian Kate Jordan wrote about Auckland graphic designer Bill Haythornthwaite.
  • 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.
  • Minette Hillyer has written about Ngāti Whakaue actress Maata Horomona, who took Māori culture to the world in the era of silent cinema.
  • 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.
  • Margaret Kawharu has written about her father, Tā Hugh Kawharu, a prominent leader of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei in central Auckland, who steered the hapū through transformational change.
  • 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.
  • Historian Margaret Tennant has written about museum professional Mina McKenzie (Ngāti Hauiti, Ngāti Raukawa, Te Ati Haunui-a-Pāpārangi, Rangitāne o Manawatū), who pioneered a model of museum practice which placed primacy on mātauranga Māori rather than western collecting practices.
  • 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).
  • Manatū Taonga oral historian Emma-Jean Kelly wrote about artist Pauline Thompson.
  • Sociologist Paul Spoonley has written about writer, public commentator, community leader and activist Ranginui Walker (Whakatōhea), who played a significant role in the cultural and political renaissance of Māori in the 1970s and 1980s. 
  • Ross Webb has told the story of historian and Treaty of Waitangi researcher Alan Ward
  • 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.

Coming soon: filmmaker Merata Mita.

Also published in 2024

  • Basil Keane has produced a te reo Māori version of the entry on fashion designer Kura Ensor (Waikato–Tainui), written in English by Natalie Smith.
  • Tim Shoebridge has written about Sir Owen Woodhouse, distinguished judge and architect of New Zealand’s no-fault accident compensation system, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of ACC in April 2024.


+ Previous DNZB updates

December 2023 update: Revised entries

We make minor revisions to DNZB entries all the time, but the following entries have been either substantially revised or entirely replaced:

  • Terry Moyle has written a new version of the entry on aviators Leo and Vivian Walsh.
  • Elsbeth Hardie has written a new entry on the semi-mythical figure of convict Charlotte Badger.
  • Raewyn Dalziel has substantially revised her entry on feminist Mary Muller, based on new research.
  • Historian Edmund Bohan has updated the entries on politician, education reformer and intellectual Henry Tancred, and politician and premier Edward Stafford.
  • Simon Nathan has substantially revised Peter Maling’s entry on scientist Julius von Haast.

August 2022 update: New Zealanders and the environment

Ten people involved in the conservation and transformation of New Zealand’s land, mountains, plants, rivers and wildlife, for good or ill, have been added to Ngā Tāngata Taumata Rau Dictionary of New Zealand Biography (DNZB). This round was guest-edited by Manatū Taonga historian Sarah Burgess.

  • Journalist and magazine editor Rebekah White wrote about the pioneering female mountaineer, field ecologist and international authority on sika deer, Mavis Davidson.
  • Manatū Taonga historian and gardening history specialist Kate Jordan wrote about Tony Druce, New Zealand’s pre-eminent twentieth-century field botanist.
  • Guest editor Sarah Burgess wrote about Roly Earp, a pioneer kiwifruit orchardist of the 1960s and 1970s and an influential advocate for grower control of the industry.
  • Historian Margaret McClure, who has examined the history of tourism in New Zealand, wrote about Les Hutchins, who pioneered tourism in Fiordland in the 1950s, before the full potential of New Zealand’s tourist industry was recognised.
  • DNZB general editor Tim Shoebridge wrote about Bing Lucas, a senior public servant who was responsible for developing New Zealand’s modern national park system and walking tracks near urban centres.
  • Zoologist, wildlife filmmaker, writer and radio producer Alison Ballance wrote about Don Merton, ‘the man who saved the black robin’, whose pioneering conservation efforts brought three threatened New Zealand bird species back from the brink of extinction.
  • Historical geographer Michael Roche wrote about Lindsay Poole, a forester and senior public servant who headed the New Zealand Forest Service during the middle decades of the twentieth century.
  • Environmental journalist Charlie Mitchell wrote about environmental vandal Stewart Smith, who illegally released into New Zealand waterways exotic fish which prospered as pests and permanently damaged native ecosystems.

March 2022 update: Architects and Designers

Fourteen new entries featuring legendary Kiwi architects, industrial and fashion designers, and inventors have been added to Ngā Tāngata Taumata Rau Dictionary of New Zealand Biography (DNZB). This special round, focussing particularly on those working in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, was guest edited by Manatū Taonga senior historian Elizabeth Cox, an architectural historian, and demonstrates the variety of New Zealand’s design history in these decades. 

  • Safua Akeli Amaama, Te Papa's Head of History and Pacific Cultures, has written about Joseph Churchward, a Samoan-born graphic designer whose internationally renowned typeface graced record covers, billboards, newspapers and popular literature during his lifetime and beyond.
  • Noted design historian Douglas Lloyd Jenkins has written two essays. Avis Higgs was a leading figure in wartime textile design in Australia who became a New Zealand artist and designer of note upon her return to her native Wellington, while wallpaper designer, artist and interior designer William Mason made his own wallpapers by hand.
  • Otago University’s fashion design historian Natalie Smith has written on Kura Ensor (Waikato–Tainui), a fashion entrepreneur from Auckland, who was part of a renaissance in Māori-influenced design during the 1970s.
  • Gareth Phipps, Manatū Taonga digital editor, wrote on Colin Murdoch, a Timaru-based inventor who revolutionised safety, convenience and cost-effectiveness of medical treatments for both humans and animals, including reusable syringes and tranquiliser guns. 
  • University of Canterbury architectural historian Ian Lochhead wrote on Peter Beaven, one of the most prominent figures in New Zealand architecture, both as the designer of instantly recognisable buildings and as a commentator on architecture and urban design, particularly in Christchurch.
  • Julia Gatley, architectural historian at the University of Auckland and author of many books about New Zealand architecture, has written about two important 20th century architects. Bill Wilson was the energy behind the Auckland architectural collective The Group, and Wellingtonian Sir Ian Athfield, who, with his firm Athfield Architects, designed some of New Zealand’s most distinctive buildings. 
  • Manatū Taonga historian Kate Jordan wrote about Nelson potters and businesspeople Jack and Peggy Laird, who founded and operated the innovative Waimea Pottery craft studio, a juggernaut of New Zealand pottery during the 1960s and 1970s.
  • Michael Smythe has also contributed two essays. Ergonomist James Coe  revolutionised the teaching of design in New Zealand, while pioneer industrial designer Gifford Jackson designed a wide range of well-known domestic, office, agricultural, transport, medical and maritime products.
  • Peter Richardson wrote about Fergus Sheppard, the Government Architect who led the Modernist architectural transformation of the government’s building programme in New Zealand in the 1960s.
  • Jacqueline Margetts and Rod Barnett, both landscape architecture educators, wrote about their friend Ted Smyth, a landscape architect of international repute who helped raise the profile of New Zealand garden design to the same level as architecture.
  • Landscape architect Garth Falconer has written about Harry Turbott, architect and landscape architect who pioneered an environmentally focused design practice in New Zealand in the latter half of the twentieth century. 

The captivating stories are supported by photographs and videos of the subjects and their work.

November 2021 update

A completely revised version of the entry on Leo and Vivian Walsh had been added to Ngā Tāngata Taumata Rau Dictionary of New Zealand Biography:

August 2021 update

Nine new entries have been added to Ngā Tāngata Taumata Rau Dictionary of New Zealand Biography: 

Translations into Te Reo – December 2020

E kui mā, e koro mā, koutou i eke ki ngā taumata rau i te wā ki a koutou, ka nui rā te mihi o te ngākau i ngā huarahi maha i parā mai e koutou, e whai painga ai ngā reanga o muri i a koutou. Kua ngaro koutou i te tirohanga kanohi, engari ko ngā hua o ā koutou pukumahi, e kitea tonuhia ana, e rangona tonuhia ana, me te aha, e whāia ana ō koutou tapuwae e te tokomaha. Tīraha mai rā koutou ki te ao wairua, waiho mai mā te hunga ora e whai tonu ngā mahi i whāia e koutou, tihē mauri ora.

In December 2020 the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography released te reo Māori translations of 15 entries originally published in English:

  • Biggs, Bruce Grandison; Ngāti Maniapoto; ethnographer, linguist, champion of te reo Māori; written by Andrew Pawley, translated into te reo Māori by Te Haumihiata Mason
  • Harris, Witarina Te Miriarangi; Ngāti Whakaue; film actor, te ao Māori advocate; written by Emma Jean Kelly, translated into te reo Māori by Te Haumihiata Mason
  • Hayward, Ramai Rongomaitara; Ngāti Kahungunu, photographer, actor, director; written by Deborah Shepard, translated into te reo Māori by Te Haumihiata Mason
  • Hotere, Hone Papita Raukura (Ralph); Te Aupōuri; artist; written by Megan Tamati-Quennell, translated into te reo Māori by Te Haumihiata Mason
  • Morrison, Howard Leslie; Te Arawa; singer, entertainer, community leader; written by Chris Bourke, translated into te reo Māori by Te Haumihiata Mason
  • Rata, Matiu Waitai; Ngāti Kurī, Te Aupōuri, Ngāti Whātua; politician, union leader; written by Tiopira McDowell, translated into te reo Māori by Te Haumihiata Mason
  • Rehu-Murchie, Erihapeti; Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Māmoe, Waitaha, Ngāti Raukawa; researcher, health, human rights and environmental campaigner; written by Kirsty Dunn, translated into te reo Māori by Charisma Rangipunga
  • Rickard, Tuaiwa Hautai Kereopa (Eva); Ngāti Koata, Ngāti Toa, Tainui, Taranaki woman of mana, community leader; written by Angeline Greensill and Hineitimoana Greensill, translated into te reo Māori by Sean Ellison
  • Rupe, Carmen Tione; Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Hauā, Ngāti Heke-a-Wai; drag queen entertainer, sex worker, entrepreneur, LGBTIQ+ icon; written by Lynette Townsend, translated into te reo Māori by Te Haumihiata Mason
  • Sturm, Jacqueline Cecilia; Taranaki, Te Whakatōhea; short-story writer and poet; written by Paul Millar, translated into te reo Māori by Te Haumihiata Mason
  • Szászy, Miraka; Ngāti Kurī, Te Aupōuri, Te Rarawa woman of mana, educator, leader; written by Melissa Matutina Williams, translated into te reo Māori by Simon Petricevich and Te Haumihiata Mason
  • Te Atairangikaahu Korokī Te Rata Mahuta Tāwhiao Pōtatau Te Wherowhero; Ngāti Mahuta, Ngāti Apakura, Ngāti Maniapoto; Māori queen; written by Rahui Papa and Paul Meredith, translated into te reo Māori by Te Haumihiata Mason
  • Tirikatene-Sullivan, Tini Whetu Marama; Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Kahungunu; politician, fashion icon, wahine toa; written by Helen Brown, translated into te reo Māori by Charisma Rangipunga and Hēni Jacob
  • Tūwhare, Hone; Ngāpuhi; boilermaker, poet; written by Janet Hunt, translated into te reo Māori by Te Haumihiata Mason
  • Wark, Elizabeth Cecilia (Betty); Ngāpuhi; community worker; written by Helene Connor, translated into te reo Māori by Te Haumihiata Mason

Producing content related to Māori in both te reo Māori and English has been central to the Dictionary project since the first print volume was published 30 years ago this year. The five English-language print volumes produced between 1990 and 2000 were accompanied by volumes featuring the 500 entries relating to Māori subjects in te reo Māori, produced by an in-house translation team lead by Māori editor Tairongo Amoamo.

When the Dictionary was first released online in 2001, users could toggle between te reo Māori and English versions of the entries for the first time. The Dictionary became part of Te Ara the Encyclopedia of New Zealand in 2010; collectively, the Dictionary and Te Ara constitute the largest body of te reo Māori content online and remain a key reference work for te reo users and learners.

The new translations cover the Māori entries published since the Dictionary became a purely digital product, and were made by Sean Ellison, Te Haumihiata Mason, Hēni Jacob, Charisma Rangipunga and Simon Petricevich, in some cases utilising iwi dialects and orthographic conventions. The rich contribution of our translators is now acknowledged on each biography page alongside the names of the entries’ authors.

The English-language versions of the older entries were produced without macrons and utilising certain orthographic conventions which are now out of date. We have modernised the English versions of all the Māori entries, and are gradually working our way through the non-Māori entries. We are also adding inline links and updating the source and reading lists.

A mixture of icons and iconoclasts - December 2020

This month’s 11 new Dictionary of New Zealand Biography entries are a mixture of icons and iconoclasts, advocates and adventurers, artists and politicians.

Explorer and entrepreneur Kelly Tarlton dived on many of New Zealand’s most significant shipwrecks, and died at 47 just a few weeks after his Underwater World opened on Auckland’s waterfront.

Matiu Rata was an influential Minister of Māori Affairs and launched the Mana Motuhake party in 1980, while Bruce Beetham’s Social Credit party challenged the dominance of the National and Labour parties in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Parents Centre co-founder Helen Brew campaigned for natural childbirth, while Elwyn Richardson’s educational philosophies helped change the practice of teaching and learning in New Zealand schools in the second half of the twentieth century. Dorothy Butler’s ground-breaking studies of childhood literature and literacy became internationally recognised reference books.

This round also showcases two campaigners in the most politically-charged public issues of the 1970s, anti-abortion advocate Diana Mason and race relations commentator and polemicist Hilda Phillips.

Chemist Robert Gant’s photographs provide a vivid glimpse into the mind of a homosexual man in late Victorian New Zealand, while John O’Shea established a place for the independent filmmaker in the local film industry in the middle decades of the twentieth century. Hungarian-born George Haydn was an important figure in the Auckland arts and literary scene. 

Read all the new entries now in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography:

New DNZB essays reflect life in the 1970s and 1980s

This post was first published in Te Ara's Signposts blog on 18 October 2019.

Most New Zealanders who lived through the 1970s and 1980s will remember the phrases ‘the money or the bag?’ and ‘an orchestrated litany of lies’. Quizmaster Selwyn Toogood and Justice Peter Mahon, who investigated the cause of the Erebus crash that occurred 40 years ago this November, are just two of the 13 new biographies added to the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography this month.

Other well-known subjects include racing car driver Bruce McLaren, whose name lives on in the McLaren motor racing team, and Ralph Hotere, one of New Zealand’s most influential and internationally-renowned artists.

Marie Bell campaigned for child-centred education, while diplomat Barbara Angus broke through the glass ceiling to become New Zealand’s first female ambassador to head a bilateral post.

Tom Ah Chee was the driving force behind Foodtown supermarkets and the iconic Georgie Pie takeaway chain. Historian Keith Sinclair helped redefine our sense of identity, while political scientist Bob Chapman pioneered the role of television election night expert in this country.

New Zealand’s emerging film industry is represented by two entries, silent film actress Witarina Harris and director Ramai Hayward, whose collaboration with her husband Rudall Hayward made an enduring contribution to New Zealand’s film history.

Mathematician Robin Williams participated in the Manhattan Project in the 1940s and went on to a distinguished public service career in New Zealand, while polio survivor June Opie overcame physical disability to lead a successful life as a writer and broadcaster.

Read all the new entries now in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography:

From All Blacks and artists to writers and winemakers

This post was first published in Te Ara's Signposts blog on 22 May 2019.

This week we add 13 new biographies to the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography (DNZB):

In September 2018 we relaunched the DNZB after a seven-year hiatus with 25 biographies of trail-blazing women, celebrating the 125th anniversary of women winning the right to vote. This new group marks the first round of our new annual publishing programme; we are aiming to publish a minimum of 20 new entries each year on an ongoing basis.

The DNZB’s original print publishing programme concluded with the publication of volume five in 2000, which covered people who first made their mark between 1941 and 1960. The DNZB’s selection policy excluded anyone still living at that time, so this year we will publish online biographies of prominent people from a variety of fields who have died since the print series’ cut-off year, 1999.

This new selection runs to more than 27,000 words and more than 60 new photographs, videos, and sound recordings. The authors include subject experts such as Chris Bourke, Terry Dunleavy, Sarah Gaitanos, Kate Hannah, Cybele Locke, Margaret McClure, Ian McGibbon, Andrew Pawley, Claire Regnault and Philip Temple.

The next group of entries is scheduled for publication in October 2019. Translations of entries about Māori subjects into te reo Māori are in the pipeline.

25 new stories of trailblazing New Zealand women

This post was first published in Te Ara's Signposts blog on 19 September 2018.

This week we’re publishing 25 new biographies of women in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography (DNZB), to celebrate the 125th anniversary of women winning the right to vote:

These women came to prominence in their fields between the 1940s and the 1970s. It would be impossible for any group of 25 women to capture the complexity and variety of the lives of New Zealand women, but we hope this group will reflect some of the diversity of experience. It would be hard to find two more contrasting lives than those of social morality campaigner Patricia Bartlett and transgender sex worker and nightclub entrepreneur Carmen Rupe. The rest run the gamut from writers to judges, community workers to scientists, broadcasters to athletes, activists to actors.

The new entries have been written by subject experts, including Barbara Brookes, Sandra Coney, Tessa Duder, Margaret Tennant, Rebecca Priestley, Roger Robinson and Jill Trevelyan. The entries, which collectively amount to more than 50,000 words, include over 200 images, videos, and sound recordings, many drawn from private collections and not previously published. We plan to have te reo Māori translations of the entries relating to Māori subjects available in early 2019.

This is the first substantial group of new biographies to be released since 2011, as I discussed in my November 2017 Signposts blog. It is the beginning of an ongoing publication programme, in which we aim to publish at least 20 new biographies each year on an ongoing basis.

This week we are also launching a new-look DNZB homepage, reflecting the DNZB’s renewed vigour and focus on the future. We hope you enjoy it, and look forward to sharing many more New Zealand lives with you in the years to come.

The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography rides again

This post was first published in Te Ara's Signposts blog on 8 November 2017.

This week Te Ara marks an important milestone: the publication of the first new Dictionary of New Zealand Biography entry since 2011. Joan Druett has written a new entry on the Polynesian navigator, Tupaia, the subject of her award-winning biography published in 2011. We’re delighted to announce that this marks the beginning of a new phase in the life of the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography.

The Dictionary was originally published in five print volumes between 1990 and 2000, under the general editorship of W.H. Oliver and later Claudia Orange. It comprised biographies of more than 3000 people who had risen to prominence before 1960 and died before the publication cut-off date of 1998. No living person was eligible for inclusion. Separate volumes reprinted the biographies of the nearly 500 Maori subjects in te reo Maori, which together with the te reo sections of Te Ara constitutes the largest Maori-language publishing programme ever conducted.

In late 2001 all the biographies were made available online, with a team of researchers locating images and in some cases audio and video recordings to illustrate the essays. In 2010 the online biographies were relaunched as part of Te Ara, with the biographies and encyclopedia entries enriching and amplifying each other. Fifteen new biographies were added to Te Ara in 2010–11.

Happily the Dictionary’s time has come again, and from 2018 onwards we will release a small batch of new biographies annually. The first round will place the spotlight on a number of high-achieving women, to celebrate the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage. Subsequent rounds will illuminate the lives of significant and representative people from a cross-section of New Zealand society, with a focus on the decades after 1960. The new biographies will be released online only.

We’re still working through the details, but the new Dictionary of New Zealand Biography will honour the tradition of rigorous and broad-ranging scholarship established by the Dictionary’s original editors, staff, working groups and authors. They have left big shoes to fill.