Maori have second try at internet lobby

A new lobby group with some familiar names has restarted an effort to promote Maori issues to do with the internet.

A new lobby group with some familiar names has restarted an effort to promote Maori issues to do with the internet.

One of the group’s earliest pushes will be to resist the proposed reduction of the .nz domain-name space to a single level, which would lose the hard-fought-for maori.nz domain, as well as the longer-established .iwi.nz.

The Aotearoa Maori Internet Association was created by several of the figures of the former Maori Internet Society, including NZMIS chairs Karaitiana Taiuru and Bernadette Murray and former vice-chair Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara. It has the support of former NZMIS kaumatua Ross Himona.

AMIO refers to NZMIS as “mostly defunct” and suggests its virtual disappearance from the scene has created an uncomfortable gap, which AMIO proposes to fill.

Asked to elaborate on this statement, Taiuru says he does not want to “indulge in a public slanging match over the formation of AMIO and the demise of NZMIS”.

But, Taiuru then points to the latter’s low activity in its own website and mailing list, particularly on internet issues of importance to Maori.

“The NZMIS website and mail lists are [its] main hub of communication. The site has not been updated for at least 11 months — excluding a link to minutes where only three members attended. [It includes] a very out-of-date .iwi.nz policy.

“The mailing list has mostly only had posts from me promoting Maori IT initiatives for the wider Maori community.”

He also questions NZMIS’s lack of participation in a number of debates of importance to Maori, such as significant intellectual property questions, the formation of the .maori.nz domain and the subsequent appearance of squatters on .iwi.nz domain.

The then chairman, he says, pointed out that their presence was within the law and InternetNZ regulations, when Maori were asking for something to be done.

“NZMIS are often looked at as a representative body for Maori internet users by Te Puni Kokiri and SSC.”

This perception should be questioned, he says.

A statement signed by Taiuru says AMIO recognises the “urgent need” for Maori to begin defining what the internet is to Maori, how they are and will be affected, and how Maori culture and identity will be impacted.

“Also it is pertinent to be able to foresee and predict [the internet’s] long term impact on Maori society and identity,” the statement says.

“The Aotearoa Maori Internet Organisation believes that the migration and increased participation of Maori on to the internet and worldwide web need not be limited to being mere participants only in the current structure and facilities available.

“Rather, we believe that the internet and worldwide web can be fashioned and shaped to better encapsulate our culture and discourses.”

According to the statement on its website, the organisation has already:

  • made the only submission on behalf of Maori on the second-level domain reform proposal to protect .iwi.nz and .maori.nz

  • sent a representative to a community conference to speak about Maori intellectual property rights and intends to send at least one delegate to the World Summit on the Information Society’s forum on indigenous people in Geneva in December.

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