The application is under the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN's) new generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) programme, which sees an unprecedented wave of potential new domains that go beyond the traditional geographic and organisational identifiers such as .co.nz or .org.
Dot Kiwi aims to give back to New Zealand by establishing a fund from the sale of .kiwi domains to benefit the Christchurch rebuild. Tim Johnson, Dot Kiwi Limited's chief executive, says the devastating earthquakes that shook Christchurch in 2011 resonated with New Zealanders far and wide.
"I was keen to provide a way for New Zealanders around the world to connect and claim their Kiwiness online. I could also see a great opportunity to provide on-going financial support for the re-building of Christchurch – one of New Zealand's most beautiful cities and my hometown."
The company, registered in New Zealand, was formed by a group of expat New Zealanders based in Vancouver and includes several prominent New Zealanders, based in New Zealand, on its board of directors. One of those directors is Peter Dengate Thrush, a barrister specialising in intellectual property, competition and internet law. He has been the past chairs of both Internet New Zealand and ICANN and has been involved in the moulding of the laws applicable to ICANN’s governance since inception.
"Over my career I have seen the internet evolve from a place for sharing chiefly official or academic information to one that is the chief mechanism for connecting people around the globe. Being able to bring a new domain for Kiwis the world over – .kiwi – is thrilling."
.kiwi will bring a completely new option to the market for customers wishing to be associated with New Zealand on the internet, or via their email address. The domain offers New Zealand organisations and individuals greater choice, branding creativity and the opportunity to differentiate themselves from competitors, providing them an exciting way of proclaiming their identity online.
"We believe .kiwi provides a sustainable solution to the need for on-going fundraising for the Christchurch rebuild. It also provides a solution to the notable lack of choice for names in the somewhat isolated New Zealand domain name market," adds Tim.
So, when will they know? Well, that's the million dollar question, says Johnson.
"It's a process. And as that process goes on it becomes more and more apparent what the outcome is likely to be. So, while we won't find out for sure until near the end of the year, by late May we should at least have some idea if we are likely to be successful or not."
"We are not the only ones going for that domain. We know of at least one other company that is, but there could be more. We are the only ones that have come out and openly talked about what we are doing though, and why, and explained what we're hoping to achieve."
He sees the domain as having a huge benefit for both local and global brands.
"How your brand is perceived is crucial. Overseas I have found the 'Kiwi' brand very powerful, it is seen as fun, casual, and friendly. I'd like to think small businesses, the back bone of New Zealand, would benefit most from it, but obviously there are global brands that would also benefit from that sort of brand perception."
A percentage of the revenue and profit before tax from the sale of .kiwi domains will be donated to a trust formed to receive, administer and distribute funds to Christchurch as they are earned and donated. The trust will be chaired by Sir John Hansen, a former judge of the New Zealand High Court.
Should Dot Kiwi successfully secure the .kiwi domain, the new domain is expected to be available for individuals and organisations to purchase in early 2013.