Māori culture is a central aspect in Aotearoa/New Zealand's national identity. Beginning in the 1970s biculturalism saw the indigenous culture and values acknowledged and incorporated in wider public discourse and policy. The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether New Zealand's cyberspace accommodates Māori. It explores how the web space is influenced by biculturalism and in turn what an understanding of this web space can tell us about biculturalism in Aotearoa.
A brief introduction to biculturalism in New Zealand provides the background to the investigation of the country's web space. Recent access statistics enquire whether Māori are actually connected to the internet. The exploration of the structure of the internet is informed by newspaper articles and online documents relating to the development of two Māori specific second‐level domain name spaces. A word‐frequency analysis within a sample of 21 websites provides an overview into the use of the Māori language in cyberspace.
The paper shows that although Māori have the lowest access rate to the internet compared to other ethnic groups in New Zealand, their influence on the country's web space is nonetheless far‐reaching. Developments regarding Māori language uses over the last years are generally progressive. Māori culture and ongoing social changes are increasingly accommodated on the internet – Māori have been actively shaping the web space. However, these efforts do require the support and acceptance of the wider Internet community. The linguistic and structural developments taking place online since the mid 1990s were influenced by the bicultural thinking, public discourse and practice of the time.
This paper draws together the Māori success‐stories in their endeavour to assert their cultural needs in New Zealand's cyberspace. It highlights that the understanding of Aotearoa as being a bicultural country influenced developments taking place online potentially will lead to a truly bicultural web space in the near future.
Muhamad‐Brandner, C. (2009), "Biculturalism online: exploring the web space of
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