Māori culture at the digital interface : a study of the articulation of culture in the online environment : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Visual and Material Culture at Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand

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Once lit, the digital ahikā have burnt brightly for Māori. With the increasingly multimodal internet arguably becomes the first port of call for students, academics, and the general public alike. How Māori culture is articulated has never had to be considered in the face of such a potential global audience. This thesis examines Māoridom in the digital space, its central question is: How is the online environment being used to articulate Māori culture? Examining three contemporary case studies of Māori online presence on websites that are either created and run by Māori or had significant Māori input and/or content, this thesis questions whether the case studies dispositions toward the online environment manifest themselves within the digital space. And whether this effects their articulation of Māori culture through that medium. With particular attention given to the specificities of the digital environ, as to how it alters or determines the effectiveness of this articulation, this study highlights specific Maori practices and how utilising the digital space in accordance with its own unique attributes is producing certain representations of Māori culture. Moreover, taonga as uniquely active agents in Māori conceptuality and a common thread that runs across the sites examined, receive special focus with respect to their digital embodiments. Incorporating a comparative approach, attempts are made to explicate the intricacies of particular examples. This research contends that embracing the specificity of the digital space enables those within it to produce a more effectual articulation of Māori cultural identity. More so, a failure to do so produces a questionable representation of Māori culture. The results reveal an increasingly dynamic utilisation of digital media within Māori culture. But perhaps most importantly it is a timely reminder that in the rush to digitise and open museum collections to an increasingly skilful and astute online audience, the cultural sector of Aotearoa New Zealand needs not to forgo their intention of being forums of change and substitute quality for quantity.
Māori culture, Digital media, Māori cultural identity, Cultural identity online, Taonga