Update 2018-12-11: I corrected “Project Lead” to “Public Lead”, which was the formal title used by CreativeCommons for the non-legal coordinators of local “porting” and advocacy projects, and while I was at it I decided it was remiss of me not to mention NZ GOAL, so I added a mention.

—————–

In June, while I was preoccupied with preparations to travel to London for the Open 2018 conference on Platform Cooperativism, a significant announcement flew under my rader. The team running what was CreativeCommons Aotearoa/ New Zealand (CCANZ) have announced that “Tohatoha” is the new name for the organization. Tohatoha is the word for “sharing” in Te Reo Māori, the indigenous language of Aotearoa.

It’s now common for public organizations in Aotearoa to have a Te Reo Māori name, as well as an English name, in recognition of the bicultural origins of our country. I’ve long advocated for the organization that promotes the CreativeCommons licenses in Aotearoa to follow this convention. But I remember suggesting some words in Te Reo as potential names in the early years of the project, and being reminded by the first CC ANZ Public Lead (2007-2010), Dr Brian Opie, that it’s more culturally appropriate if such a name is gifted, rather than simply chosen. Now that I’ve caught up with the renaming news, I’m curious to learn more about the origins of the new name. 

For more than a decade now, CCANZ has served as the formal hub in Aotearoa/ NZ for a range of work supporting and promoting the use of the CreativeCommons licensing framework. It emerged from a network of free culture, open access, open source, and open government activists, which I helped to prepare the ground for in early 2006, beginning with the establishment of the cc-nz email list on Ibiblio.org (now hosted by OnlineGroups.net).

The first major projects as CCANZ were establishing the creativecommons.org.nz website (now tohatoha.org.nz), which went live in July 2007, and recruiting and overseeing the legal team drafting the NZ “ports” of the CC licenses, formally launched in October of that year. These projects were coordinated by Dr Opie under the umbrella of Te Whāinga Aronui, the Council for the Humanities (which later became part of the Royal Society of NZ). Perhaps the most significant achievement of this period was the formalization of the NZ GOAL (Government Open Access and Licensing) framework, approved in July, 2010 by Cabinet, the executive body of the NZ Government (the NZ Goal Software Extension came later, in 2016). Subsequent Public Leads, Jane Hornibrook, Matt McGregor, and Mandy Henk (now Chief Executive of Tohatoha), have overseen a number of changes of Hosting Institution, first to the Royal Society, after Te Whāinga Aronui decided to merge with it, then to the Open Educational Resources Foundation, and now to being an independent entity (thus the new name).

Prior to the recent announcements, there had been very little public comment from anyone involved in CC ANZ since the announcements in November 2017 of a new strategic plan, and a 10th birthday party. The cc-nz list and the CC ANZ Loomio group (neither of which have yet been updated to reflect the name), have been quiet since the end of last year too. The only information on the rebranded website about how to get involved is a webform where visitors can submit an indication of interested in a special meeting to take place in 2018, but there is no information about when it is, or if it already took place. If there is still an active community of kiwi CC advocates, it’s a bit unclear how, or where, interested people can join the discussions.

But after years of supporting CCANZ, I’m aware that behind the publicly-available information that makes up the visible part of the iceberg, there is always a huge amount of hard work going on beneath the water line. Reading between the lines, it looks like the release of the strategic plan was followed by a lot of work to secure funding, to recruit and orientate the new staff members, and to carry out the re-organization and rebranding that the transition to self-hosting as Tohatoha required. Now that this work is complete, I look forward to seeing a revitalization of CC advocacy work in Aotearoa.

For the first time in a few years, two new case studies on local CC use have appeared on the website. One is on Isa Pearl Ritchie’s novel ‘Fishing for Maui’ (licensed CC BY-NC 4.0), and one on Siobhan Leachman’s citizen science work with “Wikimedia, the Biodiversity Heritage Library and the USA-based Smithsonian Institution”, both posted in the last few months. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come.

Filed December 3rd, 2018 under free culture

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