Traditionally members of whānau (extended family) and hapū (sub-tribe) lived together while those of an iwi (tribe) lived within a distinct tribal area. In the mid-20th century Māori, a largely rural people, moved in large numbers into the cities. This rural to urban migration, the Māori diaspora, led to the majority of Māori living outside their rohe (tribal area). Iwi members stay in touch by returning to home marae for hui, tangi or reunions. They have also formed urban-based groups linked to iwi, known as taura-here. But the internet has provided a new means for iwi interaction.
Iwi and hapū members can connect to their marae over the internet. One well-used site for marae is www.naumaiplace.com. Its aim is to have every marae throughout the country registered, so tribal members can access marae-related information through the site. It aims to connect whānau and marae around the world.
The Old Friends site also offers the option for members to sign up to connect to a marae, as well as workplaces or schools.
The internet has also provided a forum for people advocating Māori causes. Aotearoa Café is a site providing alternative stories and views to those in the mainstream media.
Most iwi have their own websites. There is a variety in the form of the domain names. Besides using .iwi.nz, tribal websites utilise .maori.nz, .co.nz and the top-level domain, .com, for example:
- Muaūpoko – www.muaupoko.iwi.nz
- Ngāi Takoto – www.ngaitakoto.com
- Te Rarawa – www.terarawa.co.nz
- Ngāi Tai – www.ngaitai.maori.nz
- Ngāi Te Rangi – www.ngaiterangi.org.nz.
While content varies on tribal websites, they share the function of keeping tribal members in touch.
Iwi websites can contain:
- news about the iwi – newsletters, pānui (notices) and calendars
- lists of tribal marae
- history of the iwi
- iwi registration information
- iwi-themed merchandise
- information about Treaty of Waitangi settlements and fisheries assets
- iwi language and dialect revitalisation.
Te reo resources
A number of iwi have set up specific websites to assist in the revitalisation of their dialects. The Ngāi Tahu tribe has the Kotahi Mano Kāika website – ‘one thousand homes’. Their goal is to have a thousand Ngāi Tahu homes speaking Kāi Tahu reo (the Ngāi Tahu dialect of Māori) as a natural language of communication by the year 2025. Taranaki Reo is another site which includes information about language strategies. It lists events, and is making a digital archive for future students of the Taranaki dialect.
The large number of Māori in Australia has led to a Māori-focused site being set up. Māori-in-oz.com includes waiata, Māori-language resources and Māori news from both Australia and New Zealand. It also lists the increasing number of Waitangi day events that are being held in Australia. To their Kiwi cousins Māori in ‘Oz’ are dubbed kangaroos.
Māori university staff and researchers have utilised a telecommunications link known as KAREN, which provides high-capacity, super-high-speed connectivity between New Zealand’s tertiary institutions, research organisations, libraries, wānanga, schools and museums, and the rest of the world.
In a seminar series named Manu Ao (Māori Academic Network across Universities in Aotearoa) Māori staff and those with Māori research interests were able to hold weekly discussions via KAREN.
While the digital age has assisted Māori in many ways, it also has its disadvantages.
Cybersquatting on Māori and iwi-specific names has been a problem. In the initial rush of access to domain names many Māori and iwi-specific domain names were purchased specifically for resale to people who treasured those names.
Digitised information using Māori themes has also been a concern. Intellectual and cultural property ownership issues have arisen over the use and display of whakapapa (genealogies), and digitisation of paintings or photographs of ancestors displayed on the internet. Songs, stories and haka have been exploited by businesses, and computer games made by large international companies have used Māori themes.
A 2007 study showed that Māori using the internet utilised social network sites more than Pākehā – and the same amount as those of Asian ethnicity. Pasifika peoples used the sites more than any other group. The high use of social networking sites by Māori and Pasifika peoples led to the Electoral Enrolment Centre commissioning Bebo profiles for the 2008 election. Even the Māori king, Te Arikinui King Tūheitia, has his own Bebo site.