Koha News

What is a Koha?

Last year I wrote this post and since I’m still seeing Koha spelled KOHA I thought it might be worth repeating this post for the people who are new to Koha.


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 MƒÅori 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 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 MƒÅori 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 MƒÅori 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 sending me (or anyone) in the Koha community an email, just remember that Koha is a gift and not an acronym 🙂

Read more by Nicole C.

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