Macrons in .nz

Macrons ā, ē, ī, ō ,ū can be used in all .nz domain names thus reflecting the correct written usage of te reo Māori.

In 2005 I wrote to the Domain Name Commissioner asking it to consider introducing the ability to use macrons ā, ē, ī, ō, ū to to effectively write and use the Māori language in .nz domain names. I quoted the Māori Language Act, Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori orthographic conventions and Te Tiriti to show the importance and need for the ability to use macrons in web addresses.

I was very aware at this stage that the implementation would have some issues, but that that the international technical community were looking at solutions and had been for some time for other language character sets such as Chinese, Hindi and Arabic.

The biggest issue was with Māori language implementation into technology. The ability to create macrons on computers and on the web was still in its infancy. It was also costly to purchase software that created macrons. There was the free Te Ngutu Kura Māori Spell checker that included a free macron package and the commercial software Te Kete Ipurangi keyboard (the original Māori language keyboard) was still in popular usage.

While Te Kete pushed Māori language into technology and was popular with government and universities, the approach was to use umlauts and then make them appear as macrons with special Māori fonts (innovative at the time). This created a lot of confusion as people were using umlauts and not macrons and required a lot of rethinking and undoing what they knew. The umlauts also created an issue with macrons in domain names as some people were using umlauts instead of macrons.

In 2007 the Domain Name Commissioner sought expressions for a working group to consider introducing IDN into .nz. The Terms of Reference are here. The Working Group members were: Dave Moskovitz, Karaitiana Taiuru, Sam Vilain and Nick Wallingford. The Domain Name Commissioner then invited to join the working group other experts: Wareko Te Angina, from Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori (Māori Language Commission) and Philip Greene, the InternetNZ Victoria University Cyberlaw Fellow. Though i don’t recall seeing any of them at meetings.

There were three public consultations – December 20 2007July 18 2008 –  May 26 2009 that discussed a number of technical and implementing topics. Submissions ranged from Māori language to copyright issues. Details of the submissions are in the before mentioned links.

In July 26 2010 the ability to use macrons in .nz addresses was implemented. Growth has been slow and not much publicity around the options to include macrons ever occurred and the majority of registrars do not offer IDN registrations.

An up to date list of registrars who do offer IDN is available at the Domain Name Commissioner web site here.


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