By ADAM GIFFORD

Websites will be able to have addresses ending in .maori.nz, if a plea from the Maori Internet Society succeeds.

The group has asked the Internet Society (Isocnz) to approve the creation of a .maori second level internet domain.

Chairman Karaitiana Taiuru said the domain was needed to fill a gap for many Maori individuals and groups who felt they did not fit into the present domain name system.

"A lot of Maori want to apply for a .iwi.nz domain, and we have to turn them down unless they're a legal organisation representing a genuine iwi that existed before 1840," Mr Taiuru said.

Isocnz this month rejected an application by the Bankers Association to create a .bank.nz domain, because a straw vote of members failed to meet the 70 per cent approval threshold.

But Mr Taiuru is confident the Maori Internet Society will be able to get past the straw poll, which is the third of seven stages required to establish a second level domain.

The Maori Internet Society proposes to moderate the .maori name space. It has already taken over the task of moderating .iwi from Te Puni Kokiri (the Ministry of Maori Development).

"The name space will be open to everyone, not just Maori, as long as it will be used for a Maori-related purpose," Mr Taiuru said. "Say if your Pakeha neighbour wanted to put up a website to do with bone carving, that could be .maori, but a white power group wouldn't be allowed to put up ihate.maori.nz."

He said Maori now had a strong presence on the net, using a diverse range of addresses. Only about 20 sites had a .iwi address, because of its limited frame of reference.

"The developing community of New Zealand Maori, which takes in urban Maori, and includes people with a sense of identification with their Maori ethnicity but a lack of traditional ties, is currently being misrepresented as a tribal culture by the exclusivity of .iwi as the "Maori" second level domain name," Mr Taiuru said in his submission supporting the application.

Isocnz executive director Sue Leader said the society was checking the application to see if it met the criteria and it would be subject to discussion by society members for up to 60 days before the straw vote was taken.

The vote is open to anyone with an e-mail address ending in .nz. The Isocnz council will make a non-binding decision based on the result of the poll, and then call for public submissions.

Ms Leader said the whole process could take six months.