The first dictionary with entries documenting New Zealand English was probably the Heinemann New Zealand Dictionary, published in 1979. Edited by
Harry Orsman (1928–2002), it is a 1,337-page book, with information relating to the usage and pronunciation of terms that were widely accepted throughout the English-speaking world, and those peculiar to New Zealand. It includes a one-page list of the approximate date of entry into common parlance of the many terms found in New Zealand English but not elsewhere, such as "haka" (1827), "Boohai" (1920), and "bach" (1905). A second edition was published in 1989 with the cover subtitle "the first dictionary of New Zealand English and New Zealand pronunciation". A third edition, edited by Nelson Wattie, was published as The Reed Dictionary of New Zealand English by Reed Publishing in 2001.
The first dictionary fully dedicated to the New Zealand variety of English was The New Zealand Dictionary, published by New House Publishers in 1994 and edited by Elizabeth and Harry Orsman. A second edition was published in 1995, edited by Elizabeth Orsman.
In 1997, Oxford University Press produced the Harry Orsman-edited The Dictionary of New Zealand English: A Dictionary of New Zealandisms on Historical Principles, a 981-page book which it claimed was based on over 40 years of research. This research started with Orsman's 1951 thesis and continued with his editing this dictionary. To assist with and maintain this work, the New Zealand Dictionary Centre was founded in 1997. It has published several more dictionaries of New Zealand English, including The New Zealand Oxford Paperback Dictionary, edited by New Zealand lexicographer Tony Deverson in 1998, culminating in the 1,374-page The New Zealand Oxford Dictionary in 2004, by Tony Deverson and Graeme Kennedy. A second, revised edition of The New Zealand Oxford Paperback Dictionary was published in 2006, this time using standard lexicographical regional markers to identify the New Zealand content, which were absent from the first edition.
Another authoritative work is the Collins English Dictionary first published in 1979 by HarperCollins, which contains an abundance of well-cited New Zealand words and phrases, drawing from the 650 million word Bank of English, a British research facility set up at the University of Birmingham in 1980 and funded by Collins publishers. Although this is a British dictionary of International English there has always been a credited New Zealand advisor for the New Zealand content, namely Professor Ian Gordon from 1979 until 2002 and Professor Elizabeth Gordon from the University of Canterbury since 2003. New Zealand-specific dictionaries compiled from the Collins English Dictionary include the Collins New Zealand Concise English Dictionary (1982), Collins New Zealand School Dictionary (1999) and Collins New Zealand Paperback Dictionary (2009.)
Australia's Macquarie Dictionary was first published in 1981, and has since become the authority on Australian English. It has always included an abundance of New Zealand words and phrases additional to the mutually shared words and phrases of both countries. Every edition has retained a New Zealander as advisor for the New Zealand content, the first being Harry Orsman and the most recent being noted New Zealand lexicographer Laurie Bauer.
A more light-hearted look at English as spoken in New Zealand, A Personal Kiwi-Yankee Dictionary, was written by the American-born University of Otago psychology lecturer Louis Leland in 1980. This slim volume lists many of the potentially confusing and/or misleading terms for Americans visiting or emigrating to New Zealand. A second edition was published in 1990.