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Data and tikanga

Ngā Tikanga Paihere aligns with the Data Stewardship Framework, guiding good data practice and building public trust and confidence. Currently, it is used alongside the 5 Safes Framework to help evaluate applications to microdata at Stats NZ.

Data and tikanga considerations

The considerations put forward by Ngā Tikanga Paihere align with the Data Stewardship Framework, which helps organisations improve their data stewardship - the careful and responsible collection, management, and use of data throughout the data lifecycle. Public trust and confidence in managing and providing access to Aotearoa New Zealand's data underpins data stewardship.

Data Stewardship Framework

“Tikanga Māori accompanies Māori wherever they go and whatever they do. Tikanga Māori is adaptable, flexible, transferable, and capable of being applied to entirely new situations.”

The tikanga considerations that appear in Ngā Tikanga Paihere were first seen in earlier Māori data advocacy work, and later developed with Maui Hudson from the University of Waikato.

Tikanga considerations in microdata access

The vision of Ngā Tikanga Paihere is to ensure data use is consistent with the tikanga that appear in the framework.

In Stats NZ, the Integrated Data Unit uses the 5 Safes Framework and Ngā Tikanga Paihere frameworks to examine microdata access applications. The Unit uses a set of considerations that may surface gaps in the applications that are then the target of recommendations we provide.

Integrated data unit
5 Safes Framework
Apply to use microdata for research

Data access for research of a sensitive nature is not necessarily restricted – we aim for balance between good research objectives, appropriate conduct, and respecting and maintaining the integrity of all those involved.

Responsiveness to Māori

Any research project that is planning to look at Māori and their cultural elements needs to consider Māori methodologies in its philosophical foundation.

Linda Tuhiwai Smith’s work in decolonising methodologies is one of the well-known peer-esteemed publications. Smith provides a list of critical points for consideration for all researchers studying in indigenous subject areas:

  • What research do we want to carry out?
  • Who is that research for?
  • What difference will it make?
  • Who will carry out this research?
  • How do we want the research to be done?
  • How will we know it is a worthwhile piece of research?
  • Who will own the research?
  • Who will benefit?

These critical points are high-level criteria of researcher’s responsiveness to Māori as a large group. Some research projects would naturally concentrate their focus on smaller groups of Māori, which requires further considerations, rather than taking a blanket approach for all Māori. 

Whānau, hapū, iwi, and Māori groups

Ngā Tikanga Paihere applies in full to microdata research applications with a direct focus on whānau, hapū, iwi, and Māori groups, their associated customs such as te reo Māori (Māori language), activities relating to their whenua (tribal lands), or other interests such as Treaty claims and settlements.

Specifically, Ngā Tikanga Paihere applies to research applications that touch on some of the Māori development topics referred to in He Arotahi Tatauranga, the Māori Statistical Framework, seen below.

Māori development topics of significant interest to Māori include:

  • Māori language
  • Māori knowledge
  • Marae
  • Wāhi taonga
  • Wāhi tapu
  • Māori land
  • Population
  • Families and households
  • Social connections and attachments
  • Modern knowledge, skills, and attachments
  • Health
  • Housing
  • Income and expenditure
  • Work
  • Social issues
  • Māori business development
  • Participation in political decision-making
  • Rights

Ngā Tikanga Paihere can still be used when research topics are not explicitly focused on Māori people but still might be of interest to Māori.

Due to the likelihood of data gaps in the official data system, iwi or hapū-focused microdata research applications will be carefully considered by reviewers on an individual case-by-case basis, using the Stats NZ microdata access review process.

Groups other than Māori

Microdata research applications that focus on our most marginalised sections of society, including under-represented ethnicities and subgroups at risk of negative harm through data use, are also assessed using Ngā Tikanga Paihere.

Research applications that do not identify ethnicities or where topics are very general in nature will still be reviewed alongside other aspects of the application as part of the usual microdata access review process.

But overall, support for applications will be given where the data use can provide rich insights about our communities to inform decision-making, improve services, drive innovation, and contribute towards filling significant data gaps.

Recommendations for approval are made to the Government Statistician Te Manatatau Kāwanatanga when applicants provide relevant information as outlined in Ngā Tikanga Paihere.

Contact us

If you’d like more information, have a question, or want to provide feedback, email

Content last reviewed 23 November 2020.

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