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Milford Sound (Piopiotahi in Māori), a fjord in the southwest of New Zealand's South Island, is acclaimed as New Zealand's most famous tourist destination
Stuartyeates is a kiwi Wikipedian who has been contributing since December 2004. He says that, "contributing to the Project was a no-brainer, since the subject matter was all around me". An administrator at the English Wikipedia, gadfium is also an administrator and bureaucrat on the Māori Wikipedia. A long-term resident of New Zealand, he has also lived in Ireland, Australia and the United States, "which allows me to make an informed choice that New Zealand is a very nice place to live. To contribute about one's local area or country is almost a default position, with good reference material available in public and university libraries, and access to local knowledge from social networks". Originally from Germany, Schwede66 now lives in New Zealand, and has been on Wikipedia since October 2009: "I have an interest in politics, history and the built environment. Given that I live in Christchurch, WikiProject New Zealand is the logical home for me." Avenue has been a Wikipedian since November 2004: "I live in NZ too, so it's a natural fit, and there's plenty of overlap with my interests in geography and history."
Your Project has over 26,200 articles associated with it. How does the Project keep all these up to standard, and what are its biggest challenges?
Stuartyeates: Largely by farming the work off to other teams. Most of the articles are associated with other teams and those other teams do a lot of good work that reflect well on us. In particular, I'm thinking of the folks at BLP and the various sporting WikiProjects. Internally, we have a number of task forces, which are very useful for supporting topical events (such as the current Rugby World Cup and the up-coming election).
Schwede66: Initially, I was concentrating on WikiProject New Zealand/politics and in the last year, we've managed to create at least a stub for the remaining of the 300 or so parliamentary electorates and for the almost 1,400 Members of Parliament. So, that's great. But since the Christchurch earthquakes, and especially the February event, I've concentrated on heritage buildings, as they get pulled down faster than you can take photos of them. So, I'm involved in creating articles and improve those that are important to me.
Avenue: The main challenge is that there is much more that could be done than hands to do it. Luckily, there is no deadline (except perhaps for a few current topics like those mentioned above). We do informally coordinate work at the New Zealand Wikipedians' notice board.
WikiProject New Zealand has 16 Featured articles, 4 Featured lists, 41 Good articles and a Featured portal. How did your Project achieve this and how can other Projects work toward this?
Stuartyeates: Personally, I don't do much of the polishing of articles, I don't really have the attention to detail and fine-reading skills that are needed. What I do, whenever I see an article up for review or a help request, is to look at some of the local sources that Google doesn't cover so well, for appropriate references.
gadfium: These figures are misleading, because some of the Featured/Good content has only a peripheral relationship to New Zealand. We have perhaps been too bold by tagging the talk pages of such articles as Queen Victoria and Antarctica as being of interest to our Project. In general, we have not had a focus on getting content to Featured/Good status, and left this to individuals or ad-hoc collaborations of editors.
Schwede66: I've hardly ever worked on achieving GA; I personally focus on creating new articles, or improving stubs to C or B class.
gadfium: While trans-Tasman rivalry certainly exists between our countries, and it is sometimes reflected in articles such as pavlova (food), I think the working relationship with WikiProject Australia has been collegial. Australian administrators have assisted us at times, for example, with the setting up of Portal:New Zealand, Wikimedia Australia has invited me to a conference and sent a rep to one of our meetups, and we had a joint collaboration some years ago on six o'clock swill.
Avenue: There's overlap in all sorts of areas, but not much organised collaboration that I'm aware of. It seems to evolve with people's interests and events. We've had more help from WikiProject Earthquakes members over the last year, for instance, and not just confined to the recent quakes.
Do your members face any problems when it comes to translating sources or materials from the Māori language?
Stuartyeates: Names is the single largest issue. Almost no inhabited places have legal names in New Zealand, and there is currently a movement to restore phonetic spellings to place-names. Thus, we have Ōtaki (NZ electorate) spelt with a macron, but Otaki, New Zealand and Otaki River (after which the electorate is named) without a macron. Even worse, sometimes official names go against entrenched English-language use, as in the case of Whanganui.
gadfium: Unfortunately, we have few people with significant understanding of Māori, and only one editor (Kahuroa) with the ability to write it fluently. This means that although many members of this WikiProject have an interest in the Māori Wikipedia, it receives little attention. There is no real issue of translating from Māori as there is very little written in that language which is both suitable as sources and not already available in translation.
Schwede66: I helped set up the Māori task force and it's great to have that group now, as there's always somebody there who can answer any Māori-related questions one might have.
Avenue: Place-names are the main Māori language area I've dealt with. There have been some heated discussions over this in the past, but I think we've developed some good guidelines to deal with the controversial cases evenhandedly.
What are the most pressing needs for WikiProject New Zealand? How can a new contributor help today?
Stuartyeates: From my point of view, the most pressing need is the plethora of sports-people stubs that we have. Particularly problematic is the period between the introduction of cheap air travel in the 1970s (which made travel to international events financially feasible) and the introduction of Internet-published newspapers (which make it easy to find good quality in-depth sources on those people who traveled).
gadfium: There are still substantial gaps in our coverage of geographical locations, biographies of notable people, and coverage of historical events. For example, we have pretty decent coverage of Northland Region, but much less detailed coverage of Waikato Region. The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography contains many biographies of people who do not yet have Wikipedia articles. We have a mid-sized article on the Musket Wars, but no articles on any of the more than 500 battles that conflict included; we have a decent article on the Pike River Mine disaster, but one sentence on the comparable Strongman Mine explosion.
Schwede66: From my perspective, it is to document Christchurch's built heritage, as there won't be much left of it in another year's time. This deeply concerns me (outside of Wikipedia), as it's one of the reasons that tourists came to Christchurch, and I'm not sure what is going to happen to this most important industry. So at the very least, we should document what it is that we used to have.
Avenue: Find an area you have a passion for, and get stuck in! For me, there are glaring gaps in our coverage of New Zealand's many volcanoes, but I'm sure you'll find big opportunities to contribute almost anywhere you look.
Anything else to add?
gadfium: There was talk some years ago about starting a national chapter of the Wikimedia Foundation, but that fizzled out. We had some encouragement from Wikimedia Australia this year and there's likely to be more discussion about it at the end of this year. I think we could benefit from having more organisation in New Zealand.
Next week, you'll learn to respect your elders. Until then, read about the good old days in the archive.