Māori online content to be archived without permission or consultation

The National Library is archiving New Zealand web sites without your permission and with little or no consultation with Maori? The project is called New Zealand Web Harvest 2010. It is now seeking comments on past issues that have been raised by mainly the technical community. I see no Maori concerns or consideration.

Web Harvest is a National Library of New Zealand project to archive New Zealand’s online material, regardless of whether it is private or not. There also appears to be no Maori consultation or consideration of Maori culture and values.

Web Harvest could potentially deter the innovation of M?ori to use the Web to connect to their iwi and whanau as Web Harvest has already archived whanau web sites that are password protected and blocked from search other search engines Perhaps more disturbing to some is the fact that it occurred in America the first time and perhaps will occur again this year.

Web Harvest could potentially deter the innovation of Maori to use the Web to connect to their iwi and whanau as Web Harvest has already archived whanau web sites that are password protected and blocked from search other search engines Perhaps more disturbing to some is the fact that it occurred in America the first time and perhaps will occur again this year.

In essence, the National Library will acquire large amounts of personal whakapapa, tipuna and other images, korero, kiwaha, whakatauki etc. Any membership based system on the Internet that Maori and Iwi use will now archived and used by the National Library.

What will happen to this information in the future and who will own it? I am concerned that there is no Maori consultation and the only consultation is with two technical New Zealand groups.

In my opinion this will prevent Iwi and Wha?nau web sites from using the Internet for networking and socio-economic development.

Submitting your feedback*

The 2010 Web Harvest Options Paper reviews the process and results of the 2008 web harvest, outlines options for the issues identified above, and details other changes related to Zone files and the depth and speed of the harvest.

Feedback on this options paper will be built into the planning of the harvest, its public notification, and its operation.

Download the 2010 Web Harvest Options Paper

Please send your feedback to web-harvest-2010@natlib.govt.nz by 9am Monday 8 February.

The outcome of the consultation will be published here http://www.natlib.govt.nz/about-us/current-initiatives/web-harvest-2010 in February.

* http://www.natlib.govt.nz/about-us/current-initiatives/web-harvest-2010



There has been so much feedback and publicity to my blog post regarding the National Library Web Harvest 2010 including media attention that I am doing a follow up. I have to reiterate this is only my opinion on Māori content. I have other opinions about commercial and non Māori materials that are not covered here.

Some of my sources are purposefully vague as I have had many private conversations with people who did not want to be named for what ever reason.

Thank you to the media who have read this blog and made it public by questioning all parties involved and raising the awareness of this sensitive issue. Including Te Karere Māori News, Tangata Whenua and Radio Waatea.

Thank you to all the “private” and “Not for publication” emails and the “Off the record” phone calls from my colleagues. Though none were in support of this blog, it was all encouraging to hear.

We need a national archive.
I certainly agree that a national archive is needed. I am one of the many people in New Zealand that use the National Library archives to access whānau photos and stories. I am also an amateur historian often researching topics of interest. But I also strongly agree that there must be guidelines gained from a public submission on how best to protect cultural interests.

Where were the Māori librarians ?

I do want to know why the National Library held an International Perspectives on Digital on Digital Preservation on February 2 2009 knowing well that the International Indigenous Librarians Forum was also on the same day. This resulting in a descent chunk of Māori librarians not being in attendance. It was as “Whina” commented in the original post “a Tauiwi meeting.”

I was a keynote presenter at the International Indigenous Librarians Forum where we had a visit from a very senior National Library Māori staff member. This again makes me curious as to why the Māori librarians and staff were not in attendance.

Several sources have said I was scaremongering regarding my comments about password protected pages and the harvest being done in America.
This blog has a narrow focus on Indigenous issues and I had assumed that my readers also had an understanding of such issues.

My comment about America is simple. Culturally sensitive material being harvested from overseas can be culturally insensitive to many. Sure, I know how the web operates with overseas servers, and the pathways of data packets etc, but I am talking of the principal and the general feelings of the non technical content providers.

Password protected pages. Yes these can, have and will be harvested in many cases. Not all site owners are technically inclined and use full security. I have seen redirect pages, php scripts that don’t work and all sorts of work around to password protect iwi and Māori pages including only one folder or file being password protected and not the whole site. More common is folders of images that should be protected that if you look at the path to them, they are not protected and therefore will be harvested.

To those of you who made these accusations in the public forum without consulting me are scaremongers themselves.

The passwords workarounds raises a general issue that all New Zealanders may have. We are a culture of DIY including on the web. Financial constraints and a DIY culture has resulted in a great lack of security. With the recent increase in iwi and whānau web sites we are seeing a tremendous amount of family data being added to the web.

But it is public information!
Some people say that there is nothing wrong with the harvest as the information is public anyway. I agree to a point. But do we want our information being held by the government when they have yet to decide what they will do with our information or who can access it in the future ?.

A web site can exist with the intention of being private. This is often achieved by not adding the site to search engines and using robots.txt to stop the site being searched. If you know it exists then you can visit directly.

If people use robots.txt to stop search engines from making their information truly public and searchable then why should the web harvest ignore this ?. I am told that this is so the National Library can have a truly accurate snap shot of the web, which can not be done by listening to the wishes of the content owner. But I am assured that copyright laws will still be obeyed. The following comment was made in another forum.
“Our whanau has a website for example with our knowledge. We never copyright the material because it places a legal limit on how long we have a legal right to it under pakeha law. So we do not participate in the pakeha law regarding this. However, it also leaves our knowledge open to exploitation and this has happened thousands of times before regarding Maori knowledge … Crown takes our land – Crown takes our knowledge – same thing.

So what will happen to web sites that follow such tikanga ?.

What if the relevant Acts are amended to remove copyright in archived material ?. At the end of the day it is still in government hands the destiny of our information.

Online Protest
Many people have asked how we can protest this. I have included some of the less invasive options that in my opinion will show the future generations of readers that not everyone was happy with the Web Harvest.

  1. Replacing the index.html or similar file in your web site to a blank page with a message that you protest the Web Harvest and do not support your content being harvested. Then set a simple redirect to the original index.html file. Maybe called index2.html etc.
  2. Add a page to your site that states your protest. It will be in the archive content and will serve as an archival resource of the way we felt in 2010 to such web harvests.
  3. Have your web server block the IP address of the web harvest. This is National Library own suggestion.
  4. Remove all images from your site for the week. Maybe replace them with blank image or a message to national Library.

Online submission suggestions.

  1. Have an opt out policy for material that could be culturally sensitive, whanau, iwi etc. This to include the 2008 and 2010 harvests. This will have to take effect after the harvest.
  2. Offer guidelines on how to use correct password protection and how to hide content that is not public.
  3. Consult with Māori on how best to deal with culturally sensitive material in the future.
  4. Consider a specific robots.txt for Indigenous content in the web harvest.
  5. Appoint a permanent Māori Advisory committee with a regular membership rotation of fresh and technical minds to represent Maori today and in the future.

Other comments
I did not seek permission to publish these public comments that were made in Twitter and FaceBook.

  • Your blog is so influential, do you make your living from it. (Umm, just take a look around my site there are no adverts).
  • Where is the freedom to choose what level of access ?
  • Damn … not acceptable
  • Isn’t this a good thing?
  • I support the concept of the National Library Harvest. Done properly it is about creating an archive to look back on. If we don’t have this, there is no way to look at a snapshot of a particular time. If there are any risks to indigenous (or any other) IP it can be addressed as part of the archive policy. The InternetNZ PAG is chewing this over. I suggest anyone concerned may use that path.


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