Māori data sovereignty and open source


  • Kāi Tahu, Kāti Māmoe, Waitaha
  • Nō Moeraki ahau
  • One of the original Koha developers
  • Works at Catalyst IT
  • Former board member Creative Commons Aotearoa NZ
  • Former board member National Digital Forum
  • chrisc@catalyst.net.nz
  • @ranginui on twitter

Ko wai ahau?


Te Mana Raraunga is a network of people advocating for Māori rights  and interests in data. I don't represent them but we are people who share a kaupapa.

  • Data Sovereignty
  • Te Mana Raraunga
  • Open source
  • Tying it all together
  • How does open data movement and Māori data sovereignty play nicely?


Data sovereignty comes into play when an organisation’s data is stored outside of their country and is subject to the laws of the country in which the data resides.

The ability to exert control over where the data is stored, how it is used, and who it used by.

Data Sovereignty

Narrow definition

My context

Te Mana Raraunga

The purpose of Te Mana Raraunga is to enable Māori Data Sovereignty and to advance Māori aspirations for collective and individual wellbeing by:

  1. Asserting Māori rights and interests in relation to data  
  2. Ensuring data for and about Māori can be safeguarded and protected
  3. Requiring the quality and integrity of Maori data and its collection
  4. Advocating for Māori involvement in the governance of data repositories
  5. Supporting the development of Māori data infrastructure and security systems
  6. Supporting the development of sustainable Māori digital businesses and innovations

Principles of Māori Data Sovereignty

  1. Rangatiratanga | Authority

  2. Whakapapa | Relationships

  3. Whanaungatanga | Obligations

  4. Kotahitanga | Collective benefit

  5. Manaakitangi | Reciprocity

  6. Kaitiakitanga | Guardianship


1.1 Control

1.2 Jurisdiction

1.3 Self-determination

Open source

Open source software gives you freedom:

  • the freedom to read the code, understand and trust what it is doing
  • the freedom to share the software with others, at no additional cost
  • the freedom to innovate by modifying the software to better suit your business objectives, and
  • the freedom to contribute by sharing those modifications so that others can benefit from your investment in the software.

You can't exert (data) sovereignty unless you control the means of its production.

How do we combine a kaupapa Māori approach with the rush into digital/data driven world?


So it encourages us to do this in data science


So we must put stuff in context, not see things as isolated data points


We must understand the whakapapa of the data


And we must be attentive to history


This will make all data science better

Kaupapa Māori is always mindful of context

Power based analysis

Maximise autonomy by keeping data private (mana motuhake)


While maximising control over the state by being able to see the data they are using


Very simplistically

View it through the lens of the power differential, those with the power should be open, those without, not so much.

We are used to asking:

  • What do we do with all these data?
  • How do we catalogue them?
  • How should we use them?


Less often we consider the questions:

  • Should we collect, aggregate, catalogue and exploit these data?
  • If so, how?
  • What would be ethical means for doing so?

The Good Data Manifesto

Good Data -Edited by Angela Daly, S. Kate Devitt and Monique Mann.