Story: Mātauranga hangarau – information technology
From tribal sites to political news Māori have embraced the internet – if they have a phone line or can afford to run a computer. There is Māori-language desktop navigation and Māori Google, and internet advocacy groups plan an Aotearoa internet domain. New Zealand Māori use the net to stay in touch with ‘cuzzies’ in Australia.
Full story by Basil Keane
Main image: Creators of Māori Google check a website
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Māori IT use
While many Māori New Zealanders have been quick to adopt information technology (IT), for a number of reasons Māori uptake has been comparatively slow compared to other ethnicities. This has led to the ‘digital divide’ – fewer Māori using the internet than other New Zealanders.
Wānanga – Māori universities – have worked hard to solve the digital divide, providing computers and teaching IT skills. Iwi (tribes) have also helped to provide internet access and IT skills.
The New Zealand Māori Internet Society (NZMIS) is the main advocate for Māori using the net. There is also a site called Nekeneke which provides a forum for Māori in IT to share ideas. It was started by Te Huarahi Tika Trust, which grew out of Māori claims to a share of New Zealand’s airwaves.
Tribal members living far away from their traditional lands can stay in touch with their marae on iwi websites. Many have news, histories, iwi registration information, forums, information about local Treaty of Waitangi claims and Māori-language instruction. There are many other sites supporting the teaching of te reo Māori.
Māori are enthusiastic social networking site users – even the Māori king has a Bebo page.
KAREN is a high-speed internet link used by New Zealand universities, libraries, research institutions, schools and museums. Māori use the site for weekly discussions.
Māori-language domain names, and Māori cultural property like pictures or stories have both been used on the net by other people.
It took time for macrons – used in Māori spelling – to be easily available on the net. But in 2009 Māori was available in Windows, Microsoft Office and even Google. Two popular second-level domain names in internet addresses are .maori.nz and .iwi.nz. An Aotearoa top-level domain – .aa – has been suggested as a possibility.