Story: Te Ara – a history

Geoffrey Palmer

Geoffrey Palmer

Te Ara advisory committee chair Sir Geoffrey Palmer is seen at left with general editor Jock Phillips at the launch of the Wellington Places entry.

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Contributed by Geoffrey Palmer

I recollect that I was teaching law in the United States when asked to chair the Te Ara Advisory Committee. It turned out to be one of the easiest and most satisfying tasks with which I have ever been involved. The reason stems from the fact that the board members were all gifted people with a profound knowledge of New Zealand, but from many different angles. To tell the truth I was in awe of them and still am. It was as good a board as I have ever sat on. We never had a moment of difficulty.

We did not meet frequently, only when the highly professional team working under Dr Jock Phillips’s superb leadership felt they needed some outside views. Then we worked to highly specific agendas and the team tried to extract from all of us as much insight as we could muster. They tested their approaches rigorously with us.

Te Ara broke much new ground. The marvellous capacities of the new digital technologies were captured to tell the stories of New Zealand and New Zealanders. What a wonderful teaching resource it must be for the schools and students.

Te Ara reinforces our sense of nationhood, it makes us proud of our people and provides depth and insight about many matters that make New Zealand unique.

I feel privileged to have played a small part in what has become a wonderful celebration of our lives, our land, our culture, our economy and so many facets of New Zealand. I was even invited to contribute an item for Te Ara on New Zealand law, and my son Matthew contributed another on our constitution.

I salute Jock Phillips and his team. They have created something that has attracted significant international attention and that tells people overseas as well as ourselves about us and our country. It is a matter for rejoicing.

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Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

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How to cite this page:

the Te Ara team, 'Te Ara – a history - Planning the encyclopedia: process, look and feel', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 17 May 2022)

Story by the Te Ara team