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Co-designing Māori data governance

The co-design of a Māori data governance model is one of four workstreams of the Mana Ōrite Work Programme between Stats NZ and the Data Iwi Leaders Group of the National Iwi Chairs Forum. This is a high priority initiative for the Government Chief Data Steward and Stats NZ that will provide the New Zealand government with a unique opportunity to develop an approach to data governance that reflects te ao Māori needs and interests in data.

Co-designing Māori data governance [PDF 321KB]

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Co-design report

The team that facilitated the co-design process has produced two reports following co-design wānanga between Te Ao Māori and Kāwanatanga (government) groups – one on the outcomes of the co-design process and its recommended next steps for progressing, and one reflecting on the process of co-design. These are available on request.

Request co-design report

The reports will inform ongoing refining, testing and implementation of the model, which will be carried out by an Ohu (working group) of key Te Ao Māori and Kāwanatanga representatives.

Our challenge

Governance of the current official data system has not been designed in partnership with Iwi and Māori. Nor do we have a te ao Māori lens across the wider official data system that may support both Iwi Māori and government aspirations for data.

This has resulted in challenges like:

  • A lack of trust and confidence by Iwi Māori in the official data system.
  • Inadequate meaningful Iwi Māori participation in that system, including at governance levels.
  • Missed opportunities for Iwi Māori to add value to the official data system through te ao Māori insights and innovations.
  • Government agencies have (or plan to) implement parallel work streams (including multiple Māori data advisory groups) to address Māori data sovereignty and/or Iwi Māori rights and interests in data.
  • These workstreams are occurring in a disparate way and are ‘stretching’ the capacity of the currently limited pool of Iwi Māori data experts capable of engaging in this space.

What is the strategic opportunity?

We now have a unique strategic opportunity to enable Iwi Māori to add value to the official data system through te ao Māori insights and innovations. This opportunity will benefit both Iwi Māori and government agencies.

For Iwi Māori:

  • In a post-Treaty settlement era, there is increased focus on data to better inform Iwi Māori strategy, policy and planning to achieve positive, sustainable outcomes for both Iwi Māori and all New Zealanders.
  • There is increased focus on developing Iwi Māori capability to engage with data and the official data system.
  • There is an opportunity to support government agencies to provide better policy development and service delivery for Iwi Māori.
  • A significant increase across agencies in Māori-related data workstreams that are occurring in a disparate manner without any strategic co-ordination. This is resulting in inefficient use of government resource and inconsistency in government advice, outputs and outcomes.
  • The same data activity across government is putting unsustainable pressure on the limited pool of Māori data experts available to provide guidance across government agencies and the data system.

For government agencies:

  • Current, system-wide data governance developments can be informed by partnership with Iwi Māori and reflect a more integrated approach to enhancing the Crown’s relationship with Māori.
  • The Government Chief Data Steward, the Digital Government Leadership Group and government agencies can access te ao Māori insights and innovations when addressing immediate or emerging official data challenges.
  • We can align with the Minister of Māori-Crown Relations’ adoption of a system-wide, integrated approach to engaging with Iwi Māori to improve the effectiveness of Crown policy and actions, including those concerning data.

Government chief data steward (GCDS)
Digital government leadership group
The Minister of Māori-crown relations

Value proposition

Develop a Māori data governance (MDG) model that improves how Iwi Māori partners can work with government to add value to the wider official data system. Improved partnership will support:

  • A cohesive, system-wide MDG model to ensure consistent, positive outcomes for both Iwi Māori and New Zealand.
  • The wider data system and government agencies to benefit from te ao Māori insights and innovation about data and its uses.
  • Improved system-wide policy development and service delivery that is informed by te ao Māori insight and innovation.
  • More meaningful and effective Iwi Māori participation, trust and confidence in data and the official data system.

Our solution

For Iwi Māori to work in collaboration with government agencies to co-design a MDG model for the official data system using a Treaty-based co-design process that appropriately reflects the Treaty partnership between Iwi Māori and the Crown. As such, it will be co-led by the Data Iwi Leaders Group (DILG) and Stats NZ, and facilitated by an independent, co-design expert.

Data Iwi Leaders Group
Stats NZ

The co-design process will serve at least two purposes. First, to co-design a MDG model for the official data system. Second, in the process of doing this, address immediate and emerging Māori data challenges across the official system. Learnings from this process will be synthesised and transferred for potential system-wide use in other sectors.

The DILG will bring together the ‘Te Ao Māori’ group made up of Māori data experts representative of te ao Māori; that is, both iwi and Māori stakeholders.

Stats NZ will bring together a Kāwanatanga (government) co-design group that is representative of key government agencies that have an interest in MDG.

Measuring our success

Our success will look like:

  • a co-designed data governance model created by Iwi Māori and the Crown
  • an evaluation of the co-design process and implementation by the data system
  • the identification of any unintended opportunities, outcomes and learnings from this process.

Kāwanatanga agencies

The following agencies have accepted an invitation from the Stats NZ Chief Executive/Government Statistician and GCDS to join the Kāwanatanga co-design group:

Department of Internal Affairs - representing the Government Chief Digital Officer
Te Puni Kōkiri
Ministry of Social Development
Oranga Tamariki
Privacy Commission
Inland Revenue
Ministry of Justice
Ministry of Education
Social Wellbeing Agency
Land Information New Zealand
Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment
NZ Police

Preparing for co-design: Thought leadership group

In preparation for the co-design wānanga, Stats NZ established a cross-agency Thought leadership group tasked with thinking deeply about the impacts and opportunities of a MDG model and  engaging in the conversations needed to produce a discussion paper. This paper was provided to the Kāwanatanga co-design group members to enable them to meaningfully participate in the co-design discussions.

Plan and next steps

  • Planning and preparation, Thought leadership group wānanga (completed: Aug 2020)
  • Co-design wānanga between Te Ao Māori and Kāwanatanga groups (completed: Nov 2020)
  • Report from the co-design process and final report for Māori data governance model and evaluation (completed: early May 2021)
  • Ohu (working group) to refine, test and form a process for embedding and implementing the model (ongoing)


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

Content last reviewed 02 February 2021.