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Co-designing Māori data governance

The co-design of a Māori data governance (MDG) model is one of four workstreams of the Mana Ōrite Work Programme between Stats NZ and the Data Iwi Leaders Group (DILG) of the National Iwi Chairs Forum (NICF). 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 Māori needs and interests in data. 

Co-designing Māori data governance [PDF 868KB]

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The Māori data governance co-design reports

A MDG co-design process has been co-led by the Data ILG and Stats NZ, with two groups of participants – iwi and Māori (the Te Ao Māori group), and government (the Kāwanatanga group), facilitated by independent consultants.  Co-design wānanga took place in late 2021.

The facilitation team have produced two reports based on the reflections from those wānanga.

  • Tawhiti Nuku, Māori Data Governance Co-design Report on the outcomes of the co-design process and its recommended next steps for progressing
  • Māori Data Governance Co-design Review, which focuses on the process of co-design.

These are available online and can be requested.

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.

The strategic opportunity

We have a unique strategic opportunity to enable Iwi-Māori to add value to the official data ecosystem through te ao Māori insights and innovations. This opportunity will provide mutual benefits to both Iwi-Māori and government agencies in relation to Māori-Crown relationships.

The mutual benefits include:

  • A cohesive, system-wide MDG model created by Iwi-Maori and government agencies to ensure consistent, positive outcomes
  • The wider data system and government agencies can benefit from te ao Māori insights and innovation about Māori data and its uses
  • Improved system-wide policy development and service delivery that is informed by te ao Māori insights and innovation
  • Realising Māori data aspirations, ensuring meaningful and effective Iwi-Māori participation, building trust and confidence in data and the official data system.
  • Capability development throughout the data system through understanding and use of the model

The MDG model can be applied to benefit other indigenous communities and indigenous communities, demonstrating NZ governments unique relationship with iwi/Māori.

Our solution and success measures

Our solution is 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 is being co-led by the Data Iwi Leaders Group (DILG) and Stats NZ.

The co-design process serves 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 can be synthesised and transferred for potential system-wide use in other sectors.

Our success looks 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.

The DILG bought 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 bought together a Kāwanatanga (government) co-design group that is representative of key government agencies that have an interest in MDG.

Next steps

Te Ao Māori and Kāwanatanga groups have agreed to form an Ohu raraunga (working group) to continue the momentum on refining, testing and implementing the MDG model, based on the waka hourua and Māori Chief Data Steward concepts.  The Ohu will identify Pae Tata and Pae Tawhiti - short, medium and long-term outcomes. The Ohu will be a small working group with members from the Kāwanatanga and Te Ao Maori groups.

A key theme that emerged from the co-design wānanga is the metaphor of a waka hourua (double-hulled ocean voyaging waka), whereby each hull represents the Te Ao Māori and Kāwanatanga groups respectively.  

Amongst other recommendations, a particular focus is fleshing out the possible establishment of a Māori Chief Data Steward, which would align with the role of the Government Statistician and Government Chief Data Steward but applying a te ao Māori perspective to decision-making about Māori data.

The reports also include a co-design continuum, which can be applied across the data system and across government when making decisions about levels of engagement in co-design processes and working with Māori-Crown relationships.

Key dates

  • 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) – this will involve formation of strategy and pathway to embedding the model – resourcing, capability and capacity, legislation and policy
  • Refining, testing and implementing MDG model (ongoing)

Thought Leadership groups

We would like to acknowledge the following people/organisations who formed the Te Ao Maori co-design group: 

Data Iwi Leaders Group
Kāhui Raraunga Charitable Trust and their technical advisors
Kāhui Legal, NZ Māori Council
Te Mana Raraunga members
Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu
Te Rōpū whakakaupapa Urutā - National Māori Pandemic Group
Tūhono Trust
Te Rōpū Wāhine Māori Toka i te Ora - Māori Women’s Welfare League
Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency

The following agencies were part of 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
Ministry of Health
NZ Police

Representatives from these agencies also joined a cross-agency Crown Thought Leadership group (CTLG) which is tasked with deep diving into the impacts and opportunities of the model.  Stats NZ will continue to engage with this group and the Kāwanatanga group as the MDG model is refined.

We would like to acknowledge the enthusiasm and willingness of other key agencies to engage with this kaupapa.


If you’d like more information, have a question, or want to provide feedback, email or the Stats NZ MDG project team at

Content last reviewed 02 February 2021.