New Zealand’s Indigenous Web Space: Cultural Sustainability in Cyberspace

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The increasing European settlement, outnumbering the indigenous population of Aotearoa/New Zealand as early as 1858, had a detrimental effect on the cultural and social life of Maori. Their language, tribal affiliations as well as cultural practices were giving way to English and western ways to allow full participation in New Zealand society. The 1960s, influenced by global liberal social movements, brought with them the beginning of far-reaching social and political changes; the Maori Renaissance promoted the indigenous language and culture. Traditional media, particularly the radio, contributed greatly to the sustainability of Maori culture and identity. This paper provides a brief background on the Maori Renaissance but focuses on New Zealand’s Web space in particular how Maori actively shaped it. Therefore, the implementation of two Maori specific domain names - .iwi.nz and .maori.nz will be explored. The .maori.nz domain is distinctly of interest because it was instigated by Te Whanau Ipurangi (The New Zealand Maori Internet Society) with the intent to allow the internet to cater for all Maori unlike the .iwi.nz space which is restricted to tribal organizations only. An outlook on future plans by Te Whanau Ipurangi to further indigenize the country’s cyberspace will round up the paper.


Keywords: New Zealand, Maori, Internet, Web Space, Domain Names, Culture, Renaissance
Stream: Social Sustainability
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Catharina Muhamad-Brandner

Doctoral Student, Department of Sociology, The University of Auckland
Auckland, New Zealand

I received my Magistra in Sociology and Ethnology from the University of Vienna in 2004. The thesis investigated the female gender identity of Austrian and Albanian adolescent girls. Since 2005 I have been working on my Doctorate in Sociology at the University of Auckland. My thesis explores the question whether the internet, in particular the World Wide Web, has a similar potential for contributing to strengthening the identity of individuals as Maori as other forms of (Maori) media have. The thesis combines my interest in exploring literature on identity and social and cultural changes as well as my empirical interest in multi-method approaches. The Maori web space is explored through hyperlink network analysis and content analysis and supplemented by questionnaires with website hosts and interviews with Maori internet users. My other interests lie in issues of migration and changes in gender roles.

Ref: S08P0144