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The Stories Behind Our National Symbols in Te Ara’s Latest Work

When New Zealand’s first banknote was issued in 1934 it carried an image of the Māori King, Tāwhiao, because no one was able to supply a suitable photograph of King George V.

This is one of the little-known stories to be found in Government and Nation, the latest theme of Te Ara, New Zealand’s online Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Te Ara also tells us that when New Zealand’s Coat of Arms was redesigned in 1956, the Attorney General requested the designer to make the figure of the woman more like Hollywood star Grace Kelly.

The Government and Nation theme, Te Ara’s latest major release, will be launched by Governor-General, Lt Gen Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, at Parliament on Wednesday. It has taken 14 months and 20 expert historians, writers and researchers to complete. This theme is the seventh of nine planned for the encyclopaedia.

The Government and Nation theme is divided into nine sections: Institutions of government, Nationhood and identity, Political participation, Te Tiriti, War and Defence, State Sector and Policy, New Zealand and the World, Legal System and Education.

The website is enriched by hundreds of historic photographs of key events in New Zealand history as well as video clips, interactive maps and diagrams, and sound files. Material has been sourced from libraries and archives around the country and enhanced by new graphic material created by Te Ara’s expert web team.

It includes the most up-to-date information on New Zealand history, including a fascinating infographic which presents the results of every general election since 1890 in a striking interactive diagram.

This year also marks the 10th anniversary of Te Ara’s inception with work beginning in 2002 and going online for the first time in 2005.

Te Ara senior editor Jock Phillips said the Te Ara Government and Nation theme is an incredibly rich, up-to-the-minute resource about New Zealand written by the country’s leading historians.

“Te Ara is the most authoritative historical resource of its kind and is of enormous benefit to students, teachers, researchers and anyone with an interest in finding out more about any aspect of New Zealand history.”

For more information see: http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/government-and-nation.


Updated on 23rd July 2015