The worlds first un moderated Indigenous domain name that took Māori three attempts and five years for the Internet governing body InternetNZ to recognise the needs of Māori and to approve the implementation of .maori.nz by InternetNZ council on 07 June 2002. Implementation date was 04 September 2002.
.maori.nz was significant for a number of reasons including:
- The first addition to the .nz name space in 6 years
- The world’s first Indigenous un-moderated domain name
- The first application to use the policy for a new 2nd Level Domain Name in .nz
- The first domain in .nz that was by and for Māori
- The majority of votes for creation (ten times more than the InternetNZ membership)
- The largest community participation with the .nz straw poll in .nz
Despite the significant national and international achievements above of .maori.nz, the achievements were mentioned in only one sentence in the book Connecting the clouds commissioned by InternetNZ . Connecting the clouds is a history of the people, activities and events that contributed to the creation, then growth, of the Internet in New Zealand. There is also little recognition of the Indigenous achievements on the .nz Wikipedia page.
The genuine history of .maori.nz is already being re-written by academics in their research which is based solely on media articles and the limited amount of data left publicly available on the web. I am conscious of the deliberate act of deleting information by some gate keepers who would prefer some of this information is gone and forgotten.
Many people think that the government, InternetNZ or some other organization created .maori.nz . The truth is that a small core group persevered for five years, and fought politics and racism for a number of years to have .maori.nz introduced so that all Māori on the web could have a unique identity.
The policy of applying for the creation of a new 2nd Level Domain name in .nz was retired on September 30 2014 when the .nz structure was opened up to allow name registrations directly at the .nz without the need to use a pre selected suffix of: co.nz, net.nz, org.nz, geek.nz, maori.nz/māori.nz, gen.nz, health.nz, govt.nz, ,mil.nz, parliament.nz.
The man who originally thought of .maori.nz is Ross Himona. The other person who introduced me to the .maori.nz debate and fully supported the process in the following years to see .maori.nz created is Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara.
As Māori we would probably be looking at a new GTLD at the costing millions of dollars, or perhaps still arguing and seeking a fair representation online if we didn’t have .maori.nz . Perhaps Māori would have taken a case to the Waitangi Tribunal seeking a change of the way the .nz is managed in New Zealand and for recognition of Treaty partnerships. Or dot Kiwi would be the preferred option.
Attempt one- 1997
In 1997 Ross Himona was working for Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust in Wellington. The trust is a national early childhood educational facility. The trust wanted to make an Internet presence and use the domain kohanga.ac.nz . At that time the .ac.nz domain was moderated only available for tertiary level institutions.
Upon the Kōhanga Reo National Trust applying for kohanga.ac.nz they were informed by the .ac.nz moderator that the Kōhanga was not an academic institute therefore unable to use .ac.nz. They were also not eligible to use .school.nz which at that time was also moderated. But as they were a trust which administers the movement of 750 plus kōhanga reo and a registered charitable trust, therefore should apply for .org.nz.
In that same year a public submission was made available by InternetNZ (previously known as ISOCNZ) for any interested parties to submit feedback about new Second Level Domains. This was an opportunity for Kōhanaga to be represented fairly on the web and to apply for .maori.nz to be created. A number of submissions were sent to InternetNZ in support of a new Māori domain “.maori.nz” with no success.
Disillusioned by these circumstances and the avalanche of “Anti Māori” emails from the public (still a common occurrence in 2017 but with social media as well) and members of InternetNZ, the high rate of cyber-squatting Māori names (still an on-going issue), Ross Himona established a Māori organisation to support Māori on the Internet which was to become The New Zealand Māori Internet Society. “The New Zealand Māori Internet Society NZMIS” begun its humble beginnings with a handful of members in a Yahoo Group, no web site and only one goal “to have .maori.nz created”.
Attempt two– 2001
In 2000 Karaitiana Taiuru was appointed the Chairman of the New Zealand Māori Internet Society. His main role was to have .maori.nz created and to create a place for online Māori to network. The first steps were to make the society a legal body as a non-legal body could not apply for a new 2LD in .nz i.e. .maori.nz under the then rules of InternetNZ.
The next step was to create a web site so that it could gather as much support as possible to have .maori.nz created.
The society had no money at that stage and the web was still relatively new. So free web hosting and a free domain were used for several months. InternetNZ then sponsored the .org.nz address which was still not representative of the society but was the best fitting identity at the time.
It was thought that creating an Internet body under the arm of the international Internet Society may also give NZMIS more clout and opportunity to gain a wider support network. Relevant applications were being processed to become a certified ISOC and a several influential members from InternetNZ agreed to assist and join. The chapter was to be called Internet Society of Aotearoa (ISOC-Aotearoa).
The influential members from InternetNZ felt they were best to write the application for .maori.nz, so NZMIS agreed. The most interesting aspect that still puzzles me to this day is why a group of some of the most influential members of InternetNZ wanted to join us to create an Internet Society of Aoteaora and then volunteer to write the application that failed, regardless of the fact that this countries indigenous people and its second official language wanted to be represented on the Internet..
Successful Attempt three – 2002
After three years of consultation with Māori individuals and organisations, thousands of voluntary hours by it’s executive (1999-2002) and perpetual invitations to the public to join NZMIS to support an application to InternetNZ and the generous koha from Ross Himona to enable the submission for .maori.nz , the third and final submission was submitted.
Karaitiana Taiuru wrote the draft submission on a Sunday afternoon while trying to consider the expressed fears of separatism and racism by the online community and InternetNZ members.
March 12 2004 saw Māori to be the first indigenous people in the world to have their own second level domain name.
The public vote was a landslide of support of .maori.nz
For: 1490 (91.7%)
Against: 131 (8.1%)
Abstain: 2 (0.2%)
To date no other vote has seen such a success. At the time of the vote NZMIS executive (1999-2002) had 1600 members and supporters as well as support from a few key media organisations. InternetNZ members at the time were only in the one or two hundreds. The membership of each of the organisations was reflective in the vote results.
On the day of that .maori.nz was made public, Māori saw wide spread domain name hijacking. The most prominent was when a businessman within minutes thanks to an automated system bulk registered a number of tribal names then offered them for sale at highly inflated prices.
I scanned the registration details and went to the media for assistance to highlight this immoral issue, which they did and even named him and his business. Due to this action, the businessman gifted all of the domain names back to local tribes, many of whom didn’t keep the domain names in the long term.
Shortly after the vote had occurred the NZMIS executive all resigned to allow new people into the organisation but this saw the demise of the most powerful Māori lobby group on the Internet.