Exploring Māori content on Te Ara

Te Hono ki Hawaiki, the meeting house at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

Te Hono ki Hawaiki, the meeting house at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

Over the last few days I’ve been looking at content related to Māori subjects on Te Ara. This was in part inspired by a conversation earlier this year about its visibility with the former Māori editor, Basil Keane. You can find a lot of this content using the Te Reo Māori browse, which takes you through to all the translated stories. There are 127 translated stories (which doesn’t include the translated DNZB biographies) and we have a further 50 or so that we’re translating at the moment.

Looking at Te Ara’s homepage you don’t get a great sense of the richness of this content, or an idea of how much there is. For some people, they’ve found the New Zealand in Brief entry, Māori, and decided that’s all there is. A pretty poor show, is the obvious conclusion, and while we’re trying to pull people into the deeper content with links in the text, it’s possibly not the most obvious thing we can do.

If we look at our web traffic, it’s also possible to see that a lot of people go to pages from the 1966 Encyclopedia. It’s now 50 years out of date, so it’s not a great look, but where it succeeds is by having short articles on big subjects like Māori Art – a short, search-engine friendly title to encompass everything on the subject.

Te Ara, on the other hand, has quite rightly split that huge subject up into several stories and placed them in their wider context as part of the broad sweep of New Zealand subjects. So we have stories in the Visual Arts section (contemporary art, rock art, weaving and tukutuku, and carving), in Music (composers, musical instruments, and contemporary and traditional waiata), and Performing Arts (kapa haka, and theatre), to name a few.

Stories on Māori subjects appear right across Te Ara in all themes, from people to the natural world, economy and society to government, and daily and creative life. In all there are 169 stories on Māori related subjects, or roughly 17% of all 980 entries currently on Te Ara.

How we make it easier to explore and more visible on the site is an exciting challenge and one we’re keen to hear your thoughts about. For now I’ve made a spreadsheet so we can at least get a sense of what we’re trying to present. Feel free to browse it and maybe use as a starting point for exploring Te Ara:

>> Te Ara te reo and Māori content November 2015

Working how to present this content will provide a key to presenting other subjects where related entries appear across different themes. It might follow in the footsteps of what we’ve done using keywords on NZHistory to present related material, like this Te Reo subject page, or we might look at redeveloping the stories in New Zealand in Brief to act as entry points to deeper content.

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