Te Ara Biographies
This section of Te Ara contains biographies of people who have 'made their mark' on New Zealand. It does not include people who are alive. It includes all the biographies previously available at www.dnzb.govt.nz.
New biographies of significant people who have died since 1990 have also been added.
Dictionary of New Zealand Biography
All of the biographies originally published in the printed Dictionary of New Zealand Biography series between 1990 and 2000, and in the parallel Maori-language series, Nga Tangata Taumata Rau, are included here. The biographies have been published as they appeared in the printed version, with a small number of minor corrections.
The section of the website at www.dnzb.govt.nz that was entitled 'Our Land, Our People' is no longer available. We suggest you use the resources of Te Ara especially New Zealand in Brief, and other Ministry for Culture and Heritage resources like NZHistory.net.nz and The Classroom.
A note on personal names
The name used at the head of each biography and in the browse lists is generally the fullest formal version of the name by which the person was best known in New Zealand. With Maori names this sometimes combines a traditional name and a name that was taken subsequently. Well-documented alternative names and alternative spellings appear in the text and can be found using the search.
Interpreting birth and death dates
The way dates appear in the heading of the biography indicates the reliability of the source used to verify it. The following rules apply:
- Where the heading gives an unqualified year of birth and death (e.g. 1911–1955), these dates have usually been verified from certificates of registration or from equally reliable primary sources.
- A question mark after a date at the head of a biography indicates uncertainty about the date, which is explained in the text (e.g. 1910–1943?). If an official record of an infant baptism has been obtained in lieu of a birth certificate, a question mark is placed after the first date in the heading (e.g. 1809?–1877) to indicate that it is a possible year of birth, as baptisms usually took place within a few months of birth.
- When it is possible to determine a date only to within two years, headings give a composite date consisting of alternative years separated by an oblique stroke (e.g. 1885/1886?–1959); a range of years is separated by a hyphen (e.g. 1809–1877-1880?). The composite date is followed by a question mark, and the date is qualified in the text.
- A question mark instead of a date (e.g. ?–1877 or 1809–?) shows that a date is unknown. The text states that the date is unknown or indicates the approximate period in which the event took place.
- When neither birth nor death date is available the dates given in the heading are preceded by fl. (floruit) to indicate the period in which the subject was known to have been active (e.g. fl. 1840–1850). These dates are derived from the information within the biography.