KohaCon10: What is a Koha?

My first post in New Zealand will cover a huge pet peeve of mine and something very important to be aware of before KohaCon starts. Reading my writing on various sites and mailing lists you have probably figured out that a pet peeve of mine is when people refer to Koha as KOHA. Koha is not an acronym, the letters don’t stand for anything fancy, it actually has it roots in New Zealand where Koha was first born. A Koha in New Zealand is special kind of gift. Koha is a Maori word that stands for a gift that comes with expectations. Wikipedia says that a Koha is better defined as a donation in English, but I personally like the ‘gift with exceptions expectations’ definition because it falls in line with the GPL which says you’re welcome to use the software for any purpose, you can even modify the software but the assumption is that you will then share your improvements back with the world.

Rachel Hamilton-Williams gives us even more info in a post to the Koha mailing list:

Starting at the beginning: The word Koha is a Maori word meaning gift or donation – or perhaps more “giving your specialty to the collective event”. Possibly even a sense of quid pro quo. In traditional Maori society (and still) you would bring a koha (Contribution) to an event like a funeral or wedding or big meeting, often food or the specialty of your region. When it’s your turn to hold an event all your guests will bring a Koha, to ease the burden of catering for a lot of people.

Next time you’re send me or anyone in the Koha community an email, or before you start posting about sessions at KohaCon, just remember that Koha is a gift and not an acronym 🙂

[update] Fixed typo. [/update]

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  1. Do you see a difference between “a gift that comes with expectations…. [and a] ‘gift with exceptions’”?

    Or are they sort of the same thing? The same sort of thing?

    A gift with strings attached? A gift horse (into whose mouth one ought not look)? A gift that keeps on giving?

  2. Kurt,

    That was a typo on my part 🙂 There is a huge difference between those two definitions and there are certainly no exceptions with Koha.


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