Beautiful people

Sunrise over Hikurangi, East Coast (click for image credit)

Sunrise over Hikurangi, East Coast (click for image credit)

I am very sad to be writing this farewell blog to all our loyal Te Ara users. Along with the other four staff who have been working on the Te Ara website content for the past year, my contract ends in a few days. We’ve been very busy over the past twelve months developing new processes and ways of working, and getting our heads around the multitude of jobs that have to be done to keep the site reliable, useful and engaging for the many people who refer to it each day. Among many other things, we have:

Completing the Peoples entries and various other entries in process, and undertaking the major, ongoing task of updating the 980-plus Te Ara entries (including the large number of science entries) will now be the job of the new Research and Publishing Group of Manatū Taonga. This team will be managing the site from 2 November, and I wish them well with that important responsibility.

The title of this blog, ‘Beautiful people’, comes from the hit song ‘Sensitive to a smile’ by Herbs, which features in our entry about the East Coast, written by Monty Soutar. The video was filmed by soon-to-be famous director Lee Tamahori and John Day on the coast in 1987, and, like the song, was a huge success at the time. Watch it, and you will understand why. It is one of my favourite resources on Te Ara, and to me it exemplifies what has been created through the site – a rich, nuanced and affectionate portrayal of this unique country and its peoples.

I would like to thank the many beautiful people I have been privileged to work with down the years, first during the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography project under the leadership of Bill Oliver and Claudia Orange, and then during the Te Ara project, until 2014 under the guidance of the inspirational Jock Phillips.  It has been my great good fortune to belong to two wonderful teams, and I will never forget the laughter, the arguments, the camaraderie and the sheer hard work. Out of all that came two taonga: the DNZB and Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. I hope they will be cherished and looked after as they deserve for years to come.

Finally, I want to pay tribute to an amazing, staunch group of women who not only helped to build Te Ara, but have done their best this past year, under very difficult circumstances, to put it on a secure footing for the future. Kerryn Pollock, Caren Wilton, Mel Lovell-Smith and Emily Tutaki, I salute you. May you find new paths, and be truly respected and rewarded for your great talents.

We all know that an online encyclopedia like Te Ara is never really finished – to remain relevant it must be constantly updated and refreshed. That will be the challenge for our successors, and you, the users, will judge whether or not the goal is achieved.

19 comments have been added so far

  1. Comment made by Angela Mitchell || October 21st, 2015

    Thank you Nancy for a beautiful blog, your dedicated efforts over many years, passion, commitment and contribution to Te Ara - he taonga ataahua.

    It has been a privilege to share a small part of the journey with an incredibly talemted, down as youve said beautiful group off people alongside the collaborative efforts of our national, regional and local institutions, experts and private collections.

    I trust that in the Ministry’s endeavours to lead the publishing sector, they will continue journey with integrity, passion and commitment all of you have shown lover this past year.

  2. Comment made by Shayne Parkinson || October 22nd, 2015

    Thank you, Nancy and your fellow contributors, for all the work you’ve done in making Te Ara the wonderful resource it is. I’m often asked for suggestions of web sites to find out more about New Zealand, and Te Ara is the first place I direct people.

  3. Comment made by Megan || October 22nd, 2015

    I referenced Te Ara just yesterday. Thanks for an excellent resource. Very disappointed to hear this news.

  4. Comment made by Sarah Jane Parton || October 22nd, 2015

    Te Ara is the site we send our students to as their first stop for all New Zealand focused assignments. This is an outrage - it is a necessary and unequalled resource. :(

  5. Comment made by Barry Thomas || October 22nd, 2015

    A sad end to a fine respectable cultural institution.

  6. Comment made by Ross Somerville || October 22nd, 2015

    Thank you, Nancy, for a very moving post.
    Congratulations to you and mel and Kerryn and Caren and Emily for the remarkable amount you have accomplished through the vicissitudes of the last year. It is a truly impressive achievement. I’m especially gratified to see that those last wonderful entries in the Creative and Intellectual Life theme have been completed - truly vital content that balances the whole.
    It is indeed a challenge to the Ministry’s research and publishing group to maintain, develop and enhance Te Ara in the manner it deserves. It is clearly the most successful publishing enterprise the Ministry has ever engaged in, and we must hope that the short-sighted and brutal way the organisation has treated its gifted and loyal staff will not be reflected in the future development of its most valuable asset.
    With hope we await the new dawn.

  7. Comment made by Caren Wilton || October 22nd, 2015

    Thank you Nancy, a beautiful piece. I feel really privileged to have been part of building such a taonga and working with, yes, so many beautiful people over the last nine years. May you all go well, and of course I hope the Ministry will maintain, support and develop Te Ara as they say they intend to.

  8. Comment made by Aaron Frater || October 22nd, 2015

    Sad to hear. I have come to rely on this web site for personal and professorial research and information gathering.

  9. Comment made by Ian || October 22nd, 2015

    I think Te Ara is wonderful - a go to place for accessible, reliable info on Kiwi topics. I really don’t understand why every member of the team tasked with writing, editing and keeping Te Ara up to date has now been shown the door - especially when the Ministry for Culture and Heritage claims Te Ara is still a key priority. Maybe the Ministry is growing a secret supply of elves that will emerge from their shells to take up the baton, and keep creating that website magic. I know I’d hate to be in that laboratory…

  10. Comment made by Matthew Oliver || October 22nd, 2015

    Thank you for posting this Nancy, and for all the many contributions you’ve made along with the rest of the team to Te Ara. It is as you say a wonderful resource and rightly sits as one of New Zealand’s finest websites. It’s a great honour and huge responsibility for the publishing teams to take on managing Te Ara, and one that will be taken very seriously. Go well into the future all who have built Te Ara and take immense pride in all that you have achieved.

  11. Comment made by Rachel Patrick || October 22nd, 2015

    Thanks for your amazing mahi. We use Te Ara and the DNZB regularly at my work and this is a huge loss. So disappointed that MCH does not see this as a funding priority.

  12. Comment made by Michelle || October 22nd, 2015

    Thank you all for all your work - you have created such a taonga! Go well.

  13. Comment made by Fe || October 23rd, 2015

    I’m shocked to read of the rupture to the supporting team of such a great resource, it is indeed a taonga! All of you h
    Who have done a great job deserve great prosperity and appreciation and we need to keep a close eye on what happens now! The whole world’s watching…

  14. Comment made by Eloise Wallace || October 23rd, 2015

    Thank you for making Te Ara such a fantastic, user-friendly, information rich and reliable resource. I use it multiple times a week in the course of my work at Tairawhiti Museum. As other posters have said, you have indeed created a taonga that celebrates the richness and diversity and stories of New Zealand and New Zealanders.

  15. Comment made by Simon Nathan || October 23rd, 2015

    Te Ara is a national treasure, and I am proud to have worked there. Thank you Nancy, Mel, Caren, Kerryn and Emily for your dedicated work over the last year under difficult circumstances. Sadly MCH no longer sees maintenance and updating of Te Ara as one of its priorities despite its national importance. I believe that it is time to move Te Ara (and the funding that goes with it) to a larger organisation that can look after it properly.

  16. Comment made by Florence Liger || October 23rd, 2015

    It’s so sad to heard that the team is getting disbanded. Te Ara is a wonderful and useful resource for everyone wanting to learn about NZ, and it is worthwhile maintaining. I really hope a new team will be put together to look after it.
    Thanks for all your work so far.

  17. Comment made by Nicola Harwood || October 23rd, 2015

    Te Ara is an essential NZ website and must be maintained as an authoritative and current source of information. A creative solution is needed here. Maintaining the site is a fraction of the cost that has gone into building it.

  18. Comment made by Huia Lambie || October 23rd, 2015

    Thanks Te Ara team! What an amazing legacy! Sorry to hear this work is ending. Such an important national story of heritage and identity. Thanks again to all who worked on this.

  19. Comment made by Susan Harper || October 23rd, 2015

    To all who have worked on te ara
    You have all made the most wonderful contribution in producing this fantastic website. Everywhere, any time it comes up in conversation people always have the most positive things to say about it. People immediately get enthusiastic about it. Everyone uses it. Everyone who uses it values it.
    All the very best to those of you who are departing shortly after working so hard over the last year. Te ara will miss you.

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