In July 1997 Dr Harry Orsman’s award-winning Dictionary of New Zealand English was published by Oxford University Press. This publication was the culmination of some 45 years’ work and was widely recognised not only for its contribution to our understanding of how the English language has developed in New Zealand but also for the light it sheds on our social history.
With characteristic generosity, Harry gave his intellectual property rights in the dictionary to Victoria University of Wellington. At the launch of the dictionary at Government House in Wellington on 17 July 1997, it was therefore especially fitting for VUW and OUP to announce a joint venture, the establishment of the New Zealand Dictionary Centre.
Since 1997, the NZDC – first under the leadership of the late Professor Graeme Kennedy, and then of Dr Dianne Bardsley – has carried on the work which Harry Orsman had done so superbly. It has produced many dictionaries and reference works, and five PhD theses, over the past 20 years.
Now the NZDC database has gone online and is available for students, teachers, researchers, indeed, for anyone with an interest in words, to access and explore: http://nzdc.net.nz/