The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

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Report recommends Crown resume collection of iwi data


The Crown looks likely to resume collecting people’s iwi affiliation information when it introduces a new civil registration system in 2024. The Crown and Iwi will work to codesign a system that would enable Iwi to verify that data.
Until 1961, New Zealand used to record iwi affiliation information on Māori birth registrations.

The recommendation comes in a draft report He Tātai Tupuna by Te Kāhui Tātai Tupuna, also known as the Iwi Affiliation Data Decision Group. (PDF, 352KB)

The report states iwi affiliation records are not only critical to one’s whānau identity but also of collective importance to iwi – and of national importance: “These records of Iwi affiliation are a key part of this country’s bicultural, national story”.

The report says collection of Iwi affiliation cannot occur without agreement by the Crown for an innovative approach to data capture, storage, control and access for Iwi. And people must be able to opt out of the process at any time.

The current civil registration system, known commonly as ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ is being replaced as the 25-year-old technology is no longer fit for purpose. This change provided government an opportunity to look at ways to make its wider data ecosystem more responsive to the needs of iwi Māori and help build a more inclusive Aotearoa New Zealand.

Current data sources such as electoral rolls and census statistics were proving of limited use for iwi decision making.
Te Kāhui Tātai Tupuna was formed by the Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages Jeff Montgomery in 2021, saying the decision whether or not to collect iwi affiliation data was not for the Crown to make.

All iwi and major Māori organisations were invited to be represented on the group, which is co-chaired by the Registrar-General and Kirikowhai Mikaere, Pou Ārahi of Te Kāhui Raraunga, chair of Tūhourangi Tribal Authority, and technical lead for the Data Iwi Leaders Group.

As well as making recommendations on the collection of information, the group explored the importance of iwi access and control of iwi information, the need for iwi to verify their members, as well as how iwi data in government possession should be stored, accessed and governed.

“Collecting iwi affiliation is important, but just as important is the need for iwi to have control, to verify and confirm that data,” says Kirikowhai Mikaere. “High quality verified iwi affiliation data will help ensure Iwi registers are accurate and enable Iwi to provide services to members with confidence.”

Te Kāhui member Te Pūoho Kātene, Pūtea Whakatupu Trust, added: “In recommending the Crown collect this information, this comes with an explicit commitment to the data being collected for iwi to control, store and govern. We want to be very clear this mahi is being undertaken for and with iwi.”

The report states the verification process should be undertaken by Iwi and/or any organisation they nominate to represent them, rather than the Crown.

Iwi have differing capabilities and resources to undertake this work. “Each Iwi has its own tikanga about how it verifies the ties of any person to the Iwi, and these tikanga must be respected.

It said iwi affiliation is an important component of identity and has implications for wellbeing including social and Cultural connections, wider connections with place and future opportunities, so it was important the data was accurate.

The report recommends an efficient, effective, and flexible approach that captures, verifies,
and stores iwi affiliation records should be codesigned and built with Iwi. This would require Crown support and investment.

Te Kāhui Tātai Tupuna met at least monthly – mostly online, and more recently in person. The draft report He Tātai Tupuna summarises the outcomes of these meetings and is released for feedback from iwi, Māori individuals and organisations, and several government agencies. Te Kāhui will meet again in November to consider the feedback and finalise the report.

Membership of the group:

  • Arapata Reuben (Ngāi Tahu)
  • Lewis Ratapu (Tātau Tātau o Te Wairoa)
  • Lisa Davis/Whetumarama Porter (Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei)
  • Rachael Tuwhangai (Ngāti Maniapoto)
  • Callie Corrigan (Te Hiku Iwi Development Trust)
  • Mark Moses (Kurahaupo ki Te Tau Ihu, Whakapapa Roopu o Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō)
  • Dan Te Kanawa (Tūhono)
  • Te Pūoho Kātene (Pūtea Whakatupu Trust)
  • Willy Makea (Taranaki Whānui Upoko o te Ika)
  • Te Taku Pārai (Ngāti Toa Rangatira)
  • Dr Karaitiana Taiuru (Independent Member)
  • Colleen Tuuta (Te Atamira, Te Tari Taiwhenua).

Media Release 22 August, 2022: Internal Affairs to introduce new civil registration system in 2024