May 15, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

Wikipedia turns 10 and what it means for Maori

4 min read

Kia ora whanau and Hari Huritau Happy Birthday Wikipedia!

Wikipedia is the largest free editable online encyclopedia in the World and it turns 10 years old today (born at 6pm 14 January 2001).

The site was launched in 2001 by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sangers and is, according to the site, the largest and most popular general reference work on the Internet. Extremely content rich, the site shows up very high on most search engines. Sites like Google help drive traffic to Wikipedia and help to make it the sixth most popular-site in the world. An astounding 431,000 sites also provide links to it (

The site contains articles on literally millions of topics. Most of the topics can be edited by anyone using the site. This fact in particular has brought the site under fire many times. The fact is however, that the site has benefited by so many people being able to correct and add addition information to topics within the site.

Indeed there have been cases of people posting things that were false on the site. But because the community is so large these errors are quickly corrected. There have been several studies done on the accuracy of information on the site. Many of the studies have indicated articles on the site are just as accurate as more traditional sources, such as printed encyclopedias.

For Maori, what has this meant in terms of defining ourselves, well to date not much. There are only a handful of Maori editors and no doubt their time is limited, so this means that what is relevant and reflective of us is NOT generally written by us. Now what can this mean in the future? That it COULD be written by us, by experts in Tiriti o Waitangi issues, ninjas our reo and tikanga, pukenga in their multiple and diverse fields. At the very least we have the power to control how the words precious to us are defined.

For example, click here to check out how the word Maori is defined.

There an array of Maori related terms on Wikipedia, for instance in the Maori Organisations tab, there are 280 Maori designated entries, of which we are happy to say is one, yay!

Other entries include:

Of course anything added, needs to be passed through the peer review system that Wikipedia uses to confirm new entries or edits. But the reality is that we can begin to actively involve ourselves in adding to existing topics while creating new ones. This is important because many non-Maori (and Maori) search for these terms regularly and the corresponding Wikipedia entry is usually at the top of Google Search list.

In many ways Wikipedia changed the way people learned and researched on the internet by crowd-sourcing information on pretty much everything.

What makes Wikipedia powerful is that content is controlled by the community (by me and you if we so choose) many of whom are experts in their respective fields it is peer reviewed and it is free. Who remembers getting a knock on the door and having a well dressed stranger come into the lounge to try and sell a $5000 encyclopedia book collection that detailed everywhere, everything and every subject under the sun? I remember reading the free books, always wondering what happened beyond A, B and C. Now, just like Google, Facebook, TradeMe and our online banking sites, Maori are using this site to access, create and edit detailed information about what is important and significant to our development in the world.

So on the eve of its 10th birthday, we give you a run down of some things you probably don’t know about this online editable encyclopaedia.

1. Articles

  • There are a massive 17 million articles on Wikipedia, with the number increasing everyday.

2. Languages

  • There are 262 different language versions of the website, although the English, German and French versions have the most articles.

3. English

  • Of the 17 million articles, 3.5 million of them are written in the English language.

4. Record breaker

  • On 9 September 2007, the English version of Wikipedia surpassed two million articles. It made it the largest encyclopaedia ever put together and took the record from the Yongle encyclopaedia, which had held it for 600 years.

5. Readership

  • Wikipedia claims to have roughly 325 million readers, meaning there are 21 users to every article on the website.

6. Edits

  • There have to date been over one billion edits on Wikipedia, again with the number growing all the time and being positively encouraged by founder Jimmy Wales.

7. Wiki

  • The word wiki is the Hawaiian word for quick but now has its own definition as a web application that allows anyone visiting a website to edit content on it.

8. Person becomes people

  • In 2006 the users of Wikipedia who edited the site were named as Time Magazines Person of the Year.

9. Hosted state

  • The servers for Wikipedia are hosted in Florida, therefore content on the site is subject to the US states laws.

10. Google gives it a hit

  • Many of us may go straight to, however 50 per cent of the websites traffic actually comes from Google.

(Thanks so Jennifer Scott weve found the top 10 facts about Wikipedia)

1 thought on “Wikipedia turns 10 and what it means for Maori

  1. Tena koe DigitalMaori, thankyou for the heads up. I am reflecting on your korero and will post it in my fb feed, aroha Tracy

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