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Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand launches creative and intellectual theme

New Zealand’s creativity and thinking will be on show when Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand – launches its latest theme, ‘Creative and Intellectual Life’, on Wednesday 22 October. Tomorrow’s launch also marks the successful completion of the first build of Te Ara.

Sam Neill speaking at the 22 October 2014 launch. Photo by Neil MacKenzie.

Well-known New Zealand actor Sam Neill will launch the theme on Wednesday evening in Wellington. Some ‘live’ creativity will be on show, with the launch including a haka pōwhiri, a poetry reading by Hinemoana Baker and contemporary dance by the New Zealand School of Dance.

Jock Phillips, senior editor of Te Ara, from the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, will present some highlights from the new theme. ‘Creative and Intellectual Life’. The section comprises 103 stories and includes diverse subject areas on New Zealand topics such as feature film, Māori theatre, cartooning, comics and graphic novels, contemporary waiata, censorship, architecture, industrial design, chemistry, ballet, and contemporary and modern dance.

Jock Phillips at the 22 October 2014 launch. Photo by Neill MacKenzie.

Jock Phillips, who was instrumental in creating and overseeing the project, says this theme is a wonderful way to bring the 12-year build of Te Ara to a close. “It highlights the extraordinary creativity of New Zealanders in a very wide range of fields, from popular music to fashion design. The evolution of media is featured, from newspapers to television, the screen industry to digital media, while the intellectual and scholarly contributions of New Zealanders are highlighted in areas as diverse as philosophy, linguistics and physics.

“For me, one of the exciting discoveries has been the way the dialogue of different cultures has inspired so much of our most creative work. Pākehā composers and poets draw on Māori stories; contemporary Māori artists draw on modernism; Pacific people have added their humour, art and music to our cultural world. We have a wonderfully diverse and energetic creative life.”

Sam Neill, Ministry CE Lewis Holden, Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Maggie Barry and Jock Phillips. Photo by Neil MacKenzie.

Phillips, who retires next week from a long career as a public historian, says building Te Ara has involved the work of many people throughout the country – over 450 writers have been responsible for over 3 million words; thousands of people and institutions have contributed more than 30,000 images and film clips. Te Ara is a truly national enterprise and a major taonga. There have been 28 million visits to the site since 2006, with over six million in the past year. Two-fifths of the visitors came from outside New Zealand.

Updated on 23rd July 2015