Launch Of NZ History Website

  • Jack Elder
Internal Affairs


I am delighted to be asked today to launch

This internet site is the first major presence of New Zealand history on the internet. It is where the past meets the future.

We believe that this site will be the digital gateway to New Zealand history, the first place people will turn to when they want to find out about our history or about the historical community in this country.

It combines serious reference material - the details of recent books, essays from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography - with some more light-hearted aspects. There is a quiz and you can even electronically fly Richard Pearse's plane. It is probably a lot safer flying it electronically than it was to fly it in reality!

You will also find a series of short exhibitions on different subjects. These are a lot cheaper and easier to get to than museum exhibitions such as the StarTrek exhibition about to open at Te Papa, but like StarTrek this is a co-operative (starship) Enterprise, 'to boldly go where no historian has gone before'!!

I congratulate the Heritage Group of my department for producing this web-site. This government has recently adopted a number of overarching goals and strategic priorities. Among the overarching goals is the statement: 'We are proud of our New Zealand identity and will celebrate, foster and protect our cultural, historical and environmental heritage' This project is a wonderful expression of this aim.

Among the strategic priorities we find:

lift educational standards and achievement
expand our knowledge base and technological capacity
Again this project is totally consistent with these priorities.
I am proud of the ways in which the Heritage Group is contributing to these aims.

Here in this building the National Archives houses some of this nation's great treasures including of course both the Treaty of Waitangi and the Women's Suffrage petitions. The Heritage Group is also making a major contribution with its publications the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography which has now produced four outstanding volumes recounting the lives of over 2000 New Zealanders. The New Zealand Historical Atlas which tells the story of New Zealand in intriguing maps and plates. The Atlas has now sold some 30,000 copies and was the second best seller among local books in New Zealand last year. Coming up on the first Anzac Day of the new millennium is a major Companion to New Zealand Military History

In October we will see a book and a re-enactment march to commemorate 100 years since New Zealanders left to fight in the Boer War.

In such ways the Heritage Group is making a major contribution to New Zealanders' sense of their past; and they are doing so in cooperative and innovative ways drawing on the latest researches and the latest technology.

This web-site is another path-breaking effort with the same level of professionalism and ingenuity as their other projects. It has drawn upon the talents of people across the group and I am proud to launch it by clicking my mouse and giving you all a demonstration.