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New Zealand’s online encyclopedia now easier to use – wherever you are

News: 12 December 2016

Te Ara, the online encyclopedia of New Zealand, is now easier to use on mobile devices with the recent completion of a major responsive web design project.

The Research and Publishing Group within Manatū Taonga, Ministry for Culture and Heritage, which manages the site (, has undertaken the project this year to ensure Te Ara is easier to use on mobile devices, like mobile phones and tablets.

In addition, the Ministry's corporate website ( is also now fully responsive – from desktop to smartphone and everything in between.

Along with enabling the website to suit a wide variety of screen sizes, users will notice other changes that make the encyclopedia easier to navigate, such as more clearly visible menus.

In addition, new information has been added to each entry detailing when articles have been published, reviewed or updated, so it is clear when information has been revised and in what manner.

“Since Te Ara was launched in 2005, the tools and habits people employ around accessing online content have fundamentally changed,” says production manager Matthew Oliver.

“We’ve witnessed a huge shift away from desktop use to mobile, and significant increases in the time people spend online, for example.”

“The upgrade of Te Ara to a responsive design helps ensure we are continuing to offer a useful and easily accessible product for our customers, no matter what technology they choose to use.”  

“The upgrade also ensures Te Ara remains an easily locatable resource to attract new customers, as technology companies are increasingly prioritising responsive websites in terms of mobile internet searches,” says Matthew.

Work has also continued during the year in terms of maintenance and future plans for Te Ara. The encyclopedia has been updated in a range of areas, with entries ranging from flags and referendums, to railways and public transport, to the Olympics and the Paralympics have been reviewed. A variety of sports entries were also revised in light of the Olympics and Paralympics, and a number of other entries as a result of matters as varied as the amendment of the Shop Trading Hours Act 1990 (re Easter Sunday trading) and the reported discovery of a new bird species. Planning has also begun in relation to reviewing the Social Connections theme and developing an overall approach to the encyclopedia’s longevity.

Updated on 26th January 2017