New Zealand report
The Great Macron War, Critter of the Week, and West Coast Wikisource
The Great Macron War of 2018 features in a podcast
New Zealand media company Stuff produces a current affairs podcast True Story, presented by Adam Dunning and Eugene Bingham. Episodes have included stories of Uber drivers, a shady lawyer, and the addictiveness of sugar. For their last episode of 2022, Dunning interviewed New Zealand Wikipedians about their work, and produced an episode centred on 2018's RfC on allowing macrons to be used in articles on New Zealand placenames, colloquially known as the Great Macron War. To explain the working of an RfC and how Wikipedians reverse vandalism and deal with disputes, Dunning and Bingham interviewed User:Schwede66, User:Giantflightlessbirds, and User:Ambrosia10, corresponded with User:Gadfium (who preferred to stay anonymous), and attended an online Aotearoa New Zealand meetup. The resulting 48 minute podcast turned out to be a sympathetic portrayal of Wikipedians and a good introduction to the Movement for a general radio audience.
Three hundred episodes of Critter of the Week
Critter of the Week is a long-running and popular Radio New Zealand show in which Nicola Toki (originally of the Department of Conservation, now head of Forest & Bird) and the host Jesse Mulligan talk about New Zealand species both endangered and neglected. It has been running since 2015: on 9 December 2022, the pot-bellied seahorse Hippocampus abdominalis (right) was the subject of the 300th episode. Almost from the start Giantflightlessbirds and other volunteers have been creating or improving the corresponding Wikipedia article for each species to coincide with the Friday broadcast. This was initialy coordinated through Twitter; a project page was created in 2017 (and now contains a more accurate episode list than Radio New Zealand's own website). In 2022 Giantflightlessbirds set up a mailing list, and the 15 volunteers subscribed receive advance notice of the week's species. Online training was run this year for volunteers new to Wikipedia. The programme's illustrator, cartoonist Giselle Clarkson, was persuaded to release a selection of art under an open CC license, now being used for the project banner and Talk page awards. A new initiative for 2022 was awarding the year's most productive volunteer a small prize: a tea towel printed with Clarkson's artwork. Wikipedia volunteers are regularly acknowledged on-air as part of the team helping increase public awareness of New Zealand's endangered species.
A year of the West Coast Wikisource project
The Kea: a New Zealand Problem
(1909) by George Marriner, digitised as part of the project
The West Coast Task Force in Wikisource
continued to coordinate the digitisation, upload, transcription, correction and publication of out-of-copyright books related to the West Coast of New Zealand. Beginning as a digital library initiative by Westland District Library, 2022 this project was supported by a part-time book scanner in Grey District Library and a small grant from the Mātātuhi Foundation
, which ended this month. It now has a team of volunteers including several West Coast locals new to Wikisource. Completed books (18 to date) were added to Portal:New Zealand
, and simultaneously released as borrowable EPUBs from South Island member libraries via OverDrive
– as far as we can tell, a first for any Wikisource project. We're looking at other funding sources to continue and expand this library/Wikisource partnership.
The poet and travel writer Blanche Baughan has just been the subject of a biography (Enough Horizon by Carol Markwell) but her work is entirely out of print; thanks to this project there are now five collections of her poems or short stories available for loan or in progress, and six more scheduled. The amateur historian Vonnie Alexander, now over 90, wrote a 2010 local history Gillespies Beach Beginnings that had a small print run and was almost completely unavailable; we were able to tell her that thanks to Wikisource her book was now being widely read.
A comment from the head of Westland District Library: "These titles have not been read in physical format from this library and are unlikely to be widely available. This project has definitely increased access to local history information. Gillespies Beach Beginnings has had significant readership across the South Island, using the e-book platform, but our Reference copy here in the library has not been out."
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