Māori Data Sovereignty: A definition

Māori Data Sovereignty: A definition

Data sovereignty.

  1. Data sovereignty is the concept that information/Data which has been converted and stored in digital form is subject to the laws of the country in which it is located.
  2. Data sovereignty is a person’s right to control access to, and disclosure of their own personal data.

Many of the current concerns that surround data sovereignty relate to enforcing privacy regulations and preventing data that is stored in a foreign country from being subpoenaed by the host country’s government.

Māori Data sovereignty.

  1. Data is a tāonga (Article II of Te Tiriti) and a highly valuable strategic asset to Māori.
  2. Data that is produced by Māori or that describes Māori and the environments we have relationships with.

Māori Data Sovereignty recognises that Māori data should be subject to Māori governance and supports tribal sovereignty and the realisation of Iwi aspirations. Māori Data Sovereignty issues often arise from Digital Colonialism.



Data sovereignty relates to where data is stored and who owns or has access to it. Many people do not realise that much of New Zealand’s data is stored overseas in countries like America, Singapore and India where it is cheaper to store data. The more obvious issue that people do not consider is where the data is stored in their computers and social media and who actually owns that data and the fact that you have to pay an international company to store and access your own data from your computer.

A uniquely Indigenous issue is the data being digitised in the first place and the many breaches of tikanga and spirituality that occur when data such as images and names are digitised and shared on the web in places like FlikR, Twitter and Facebook all of whom claim ownership of your data and images in their end user agreements.

3 responses to “Māori Data Sovereignty: A definition”

  1. as storage and jurisdiction are unlikely to coincide (the former following power and cooling, the latter not), indigenous intellectual property claims need to prevail, as non-indigenous intellectual property claims. this was my thought when proposing “sponsored” (here, by a pan-tribal board) registry type to icann.

    territorial jurisdictional issues with public health data is another extra-territorial application of originating jurisdiction policy.

  2. Kyle says:

    How do you mean a strategic value?

    Does this piece suggest you desire an independent database of signifigant Maori value that is seperate & self funding of any NZ Govt intervention?

    Can tikanga really be digitalised? Can anything besides Te reo be digitalised?

    I’m not arguing, because I think all digital property of Maori should be governed by the originating Iwi.

    How much can you police the WORLD Wide Web though.

  3. Anita DEvi says:

    In the past, IT has often been used in ways that some Māori believe breached Te Tiriti of Waitangi (and this may be happening still). Can you please give some examples of an issue which has been (or is) a concern to Māori .

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