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DigiCULT
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Info
52
lion words in total, accompanied by up to
20,000 non-text illustrative resources.
T
he new project was launched fol-
lowing the successful reinvention of
the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography in
2002 as a bilingual online resource (http://
www.dnzb.govt.nz/), and encouraged by
the popularity of the Ministry's http://
www.nzhistory.net.nz/ Web site. The Te
Ara project is led by Jock Phillips, for-
merly Chief Historian for the Ministry's
History Group (which commissions, man-
ages and writes monographs on institution-
al and public history topics), and curator of
the history exhibitions in New Zealand's
highly successful national museum, Te Papa
Tongarewa (http://www.tepapa.govt.nz/).
A relatively small team of writers, editors,
illustrations researchers and production staff
has been recruited, to prepare some of the
material and to commission and review
content provided by external experts and
other authors. While state-funded, this
encyclopedia will not be a Soviet-style
compendium of official information, but
will draw on up-to-date and lively contri-
butions from a wide range of writers and
researchers.
THE TE ARA BRAND
W
hile the term `encyclopedia', how-
ever it is spelled (and there has
been lively debate within the project about
this), carries a connotation of seriousness
and repute, this long word with its elas-
tic orthography seemed unlikely to enthuse
the youthful audience the project wanted
to reach. The project sought a name that
expressed some flavour of New Zealand
including its Maori aspects, and that would
be easy to remember and quick to type
into a Web browser address bar. The name
`Te Ara', accompanied by the explanatory
phrase `Encyclopedia of New Zealand' and
the tagline `What's the story?', seemed to us
to signal the significant Maori dimension to
the project as well as a sense of Kiwi infor-
mality.
RESOURCES AND PARTNERSHIPS
A
lthough Te Ara will have a core of
text, it will be rich in other media. As
it has been designed from scratch to take
advantage of hypertext and the multimedia
potential of the Web, it will include pho-
tographs and other images, sound, moving
images, supplementary documents, graphs
and maps. Users will have the choice of
navigating through an entry via the text, or
along a `trail' of captioned images and other
media.
B
y combining short essays with a vari-
ety of multimedia additions in an
exciting, entertaining and instructive way,
Te Ara will provide pathways to external
digital collections in libraries, archives and
museums around the country. While New
Zealand's digital infrastructure is not yet
in a position to provide a truly distribut-
ed solution, it is hoped that the project will
encourage digitisation projects nationally.
T
he encyclopedia project team has
been active in promoting the work
of New Zealand's National Digital Forum
(http://ndf.natlib.govt.nz/). The National
Library of New Zealand (http://ww.natlib.
govt.nz/) will provide a repository for the
high-resolution digital files on which Te
Ara will draw to provide derivatives for
online publication. This is a significant part-
nership, which recognises the role of the
National Library as an appropriate and
secure storehouse for the source materials
from which further derivatives may be gen-
erated according to requirements that may
develop over the course of the project.
T
he Dictionary of New Zealand Biography
Web site will provide an external
resource for the biographical component
of the Te Ara Web site. Contextual captions
placing the biographies within the content
of an encyclopedia entry and a thumbnail
portrait will link to the full biography of
the Dictionary site. Closer integration with
Te Ara is a priority for the next stage of the
project, when the Dictionary's commission-
ing of new biographies, currently in recess,
will be revived and entries updated.
PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE
P
rogressive publication online allows for
the updating of entries and renewal of
its design and presentation as circumstanc-
es allow. It will be a challenge for the site
to remain fresh, up-to-date and novel to
an increasingly critical audience. Access to
the Web site will be free of charge. A print
publication or publications may also be
produced during the time-span currently
allotted to the project.
J
ust as what can be achieved on the
Internet today was inconceivable to
all but a few seers eight years ago, it is
immensely difficult to imagine what might
be eight years ahead of us. However, the
project has adopted open standards to
underpin its development wherever pos-
sible, to allow for future extensibility.
Content is kept separate from presentation
aspects and source documents use XML
markup throughout. The presentation lay-
ers are based on HTML templates and
Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).


74 A. H. McLintock (ed.), An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, 3 vols
(Wellington: Government Printer, 1966).
The new encyclopedia's brand. Variants of this visual design will be used
throughout the Web site. ( Te Ara, 2004)
A mock-up of a typical entry home page for the new online encyclopedia.
( Te Ara, 2004)