Māori data sovereignty: contributions to data cultures in the government sector in New Zealand

Spencer Lilley, Gillian Oliver, Jocelyn Cranefield, Matthew Lewellen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Māori data sovereignty, an extension of Indigenous data sovereignty, is gaining recognition as a vital element of data-related strategy, management, policy, and culture in New Zealand. Driven by the principles of tino-rangatiratanga and Te Tiriti o Waitangi, Māori data sovereignty emphasizes Māori self-determination and control over their data. This article explores the significance of Māori data sovereignty within public and private sector organizations in New Zealand through interviews with data experts. The outcomes of this research highlight the importance of building relationships based on trust (whanaungatanga), asserting the right to self-determination (rangatiratanga), working collectively for the benefit of all (kotahitanga), and promoting learning and capacity building (akoranga) as key principles of Māori data sovereignty. While there is a growing recognition of Māori data sovereignty, power imbalances and the need for greater education and awareness persist. The study emphasizes the need for organizations to embrace a kaupapa Māori lens and tikanga Māori values to foster inclusive data cultures that uphold the rights and aspirations of Māori communities. Collaboration and further research are essential to advance Māori data sovereignty and integrate its principles into information policies and practices across sectors, thus promoting a data culture that respects Indigenous rights and collective well-being.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalInformation Communication and Society
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 23 Jan 2024


  • Data cultures
  • Government sector information management
  • Māori data sovereignty
  • New Zealand

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