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Launch of Te Ara Theme: ‘The Economy and the City’

'The Economy and the City’, the fifth theme of Te Ara – the Encyclopaedia of New Zealand was launched by Steven Joyce, Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Transport, and Tertiary Education on Thursday 11 March 2010.

Compiled by leading economists from around the country, the entry tells the story of New Zealand’s economy from its earliest beginnings through to the present day.

The entry uses hundreds of archival photos, videos and audio clips, making this an interesting and accessible resource for students, researchers, and anyone with an interest in the history of our economic fortunes.

“Although the economy affects us all, New Zealanders are often confused about how it really works. The clear and interesting content in this entry cuts through the jargon and statistics, helping to educate New Zealanders about what really affects their pay packets”, Te Ara General Editor Jock Phillips said.

The entry also shows the important role that cities have played in the economic life of the country, tracking the growth of major urban centres and exploring topics such as street life, city language and fashion, parades and protest marches.

“It provides fascinating insights into the places that most New Zealanders call home - how property became the basis of Auckland’s economy, why Wellingtonians like to think they live life ‘on the edge’, and what gives Christchurch its inclination for Englishness and eccentricity.”

The full entry is available at

Interesting facts in the entry include:

  • Breweries were among the first New Zealand industries. In 1867, the country boasted 51 breweries, the majority of which were found in Canterbury.
  • Since 1891, females have outnumbered males in our main cities. A 2005 report confirmed this ‘man drought’, finding that an average 32 year old woman had the same chance of finding a partner as an 82 year old.
  • In 2009, almost half of New Zealand’s wealth was owned by the richest 10 percent of households.
  • Out of the eight New Zealanders whose wealth exceeded $1 billion in 2008, only one was a woman.
  • The most single important asset for most households is the house they live in.
  • In 1981, geographer Kenneth Cumberland predicted that by the year 2000, most New Zealanders would be ‘teleworking’ – working from home using computers.

Updated on 23rd July 2015