Hijacked Māori domain name still held to ransom 12 years later

Hijacked Māori domain name still held to ransom 12 years later

The early years of .nz Internet domain names saw Māori and Iwi marginalized and ignored, Māori domain names held to ransom and Iwi dictated to about their online representation. This is important to remember as a domain name is the digital equivalent of a pepeha, tā moko or whakapapa for online Māori.

The consequence of Māori lacking an online representation resulted in non Māori hijacking or cyber-squatting Māori representative domain names.  These domain names were purchased for about $60 per annum and offered for resale at hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars. Minutes after the introduction of .maori.nz , one business purchased about 60 Iwi names registered with the .maori.nz domain and offered them for sale. This was quickly stopped when myself and other activists who used public sources to name and shame the company through the media. Such behavior was allowed with the .nz rules and still is allowed by the New Zealand Domain Name Commissioner refusing to recognise Māori and Iwi rights with their disputes processes, despite several complaints by myslef to the DNC and one to the Human Rights Commission who met with the DNC.

Over the history of the .nz domain name space, there have been several significant developments that increased the .nz name options and therefore Māori representative opportunities with domain names. .iwi.nz criteria was made more fairer and available to all Iwi in 2000, .maori.nz was created in 2001, .kiwi.nz was added in 2012, dot Kiwi was introduced in 2013 and the .nz space was flattened allowing registrations directly to the .nz as opposed to requiring to use a subset. Internationally, a number of new domain names were introduced and made more accessible including, .com, .biz and social media removed much of the need for a domain name and web site.

A sole director company “NZ Country Matters Ltd” registered the premium Māori domain name of the time maori.co.nz  in 2006 and then begun to offer it for sale. In 2018 (12 years later) at the time of writing, the domain name is still for sale. Instead of just letting the domain name registration expire, the registered owner is living in a fantasy world that the domain will sell and extrapolating, will sell at a profit.

12 years of domain registration at $60 per annum (conservative estimate), $100 for web hosting and associated costs in addition to time to maintain the domain name would mean the cyber-squatter would be expecting more then $1920.00 to recover real costs of a $60.00 purchase that has no real value and is not unique. The wide range of domain options on the market, social media options such as Facebook and the general nature of the domain name combined with the wide scale Māori economy will make it difficult to use as a branding too.

These issues are not unique to Māori but are common with all cultures. Māori have many other options to consider when looking at a domain name that has been cyber-squatted. Offering to purchase cyber-squatted domain names is not a good decision as it encourages more hijacking and inflated prices.


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