From mid 2018 to mid 2019 I (Mike Dickison) was New Zealand Wikipedian at Large, supported by a one-year project grant from the Wikimedia Foundation. My job was to travel the length of New Zealand to help heritage and research organisations engage with Wikimedia projects as a mobile Wikipedian in Residence, and support the New Zealand editing community through meetups and workshops. I continued as a Wikipedian at Large on the West Coast of the South Island (see September 2023 report) When newly-formed Wikimedia Aotearoa New Zealand gained continuing funding from the WMF in 2023, funds were set aside to continue supporting the role of a Wikipedian at Large, based on its demonstrated success in spurring the growth of the Wikimedia Movement in Aotearoa. I applied and was the first to be awarded the six-month role.
The first Aotearoa Wikipedian at Large project is based in Christchurch, Canterbury, from 15 January to 15 July 2024. Like the West Coast Wikipedian at Large roles, it will be based in one place but work with multiple organisations in succession to tackle short, manageable projects that will give an immediate positive experience and encourage the organisation to keep engaging with the Movement. In addition, we will be setting up monthly Wikimedia meetups in Christchurch, running free online and in-person Wikimedia workshops, and working with GLAM institutions to host edit-a-thons.
Cass field trip
The Wikipedian at Large project kicked off with a visit to Cass Field Station, the University of Canterbury's research station near the tiny settlement of Cass in inland Canterbury. The Field Station was built 110 years ago, and for decades students have taken an annual field trip there, where they learn about local botany and ecology. As well as enriching Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons content on the history and botany of the area (including creating an article about the field station), I taught students how to upload photos to Wikimedia Commons and iNaturalist under an open licence. The iNaturalist project they were required to contribute to as an assignment now has hundreds of photos available under a Wikimedia-compatible licence (the default iNaturalist licence is CC BY-NC-SA.)
An early Cass field trip
Pieter Pelser explaining plant collecting
Original field station buildings
Students collecting plants
Research and chats with teach staff uncovered physical photographs stretching back decades, and the existence of further out-of-copyright historic images of the area that could be added to Commons.
One notable feature of Cass is its small railway station, immortalised in an iconic painting by New Zealand artist Rita Angus; the University of Canterbury owns an Angus painting of the Field Station. The Cass painting is owned by the Christchurch Art Gallery, the next institution to host the Wikipedian at Large. While based there I'll work on the works of Rita Angus as well as the recent exhibition Ink on Paper, an overview of New Zealand printmakers some of whose work has entered the public domain.
Auckland Museum Edit-a-thon
As a part of the 2023–2024 Auckland Museum Wikipedia Summer Students Programme, our students were tasked to organise and plan an edit-a-thon from scratch. Our students held the event on 27 January, Trailblazers of Tāmaki Makaurau (Commons), which helped teach new editors how to edit Wikipedia, focusing on personalities from the Auckland area. 21 people attended the event, learning the basics of editing, and a total of seven articles were updated, and three new draft articles were created by the participants. Students and new editors had a great time!
Priority 2: regional centres of the Auckland Region (12 in total)
Priority 3: suburbs with more than 5,000 students (15 in total)
Priority 4: suburbs with between 1,000-4,999 students (40 in total)
Priority 5: Any place with a school
Priority 6: Any place where people live
Priority 7: Northern Waikato communities that have strong ties to the Auckland Region
Goal #1 was reached on 12 January, when the article for the last subregion, the Hibiscus Coast, was improved. Soon afterwards, goal #2 was met, when the article on Waiuku was improved on 3 February. Remaining time on the project will focus on the four remaining Priority 3 articles, plus redeveloping the Auckland and History of Auckland articles.