Māori Data Sovereignty: Utopia or feasible?

Māori Data Sovereignty: Utopia or feasible?

Recently I was asked what my long term vision of Māori Data Sovereignty would look like. Interestingly this was asked at a Māori Data Sovereignty hui where:

  1. Facebook is used to promote the group, despite Facebook claiming all IP and ownership of anything you share on it 1. By using Facebook, all New Zealand laws including the Privacy Act 1993 are not applicable. It is also subjected to The USA PATRIOT Act of 2001, and the US PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 2.
  2. Proprietary software (Microsoft Outlook) with a parent company in the USA  is used for the email list (Software is subjected to The USA PATRIOT Act of 2001, and the US PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005) 2. The use of such software requires perpetual licences and upgrades to be purchased from a non Indigenous conglomerate to access and store data 3
  3. Apple phones and Windows devices (Subjected to The USA PATRIOT Act of 2001, and the US PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005) 2 were used by most of the attendees. The use of such hardware requires perpetual purchases and upgrades to be purchased from a non Indigenous conglomerate to access and store data.
  4. Proprietary web services for a web site (Subjected to The USA PATRIOT Act of 2001, and the US PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005) 2 were recommended for the group.

all in contradiction to what data sovereignty is.

This highlighted to me the dire need to bring academic researchers, statisticians, patent attorney, ICT experts in various fields (such as data mining, networking and Internet), tikanga savvy ICT practitioners and youth together to best determine how to battle this new breach of the Treaty of Waitangi that most Māori, in fact most Indigenous Peoples do not consider. The new breach being Data Sovereignty which is often an issue arising from Digital Colonisation.


Here are my thoughts of what a 3 year goal for Māori Data sovereignty could look like.

  • A 100% Māori or Pan Iwi owned company with a not for profit Māori data soverignty advocacy arm is created that either
    (a) Owns its own data centre in New Zealand
    (b) Leases servers in a New Zealand data warehouse using only:
    (a) custom made hardware that does not allow for any international licences legal juridisications or fees
    (b) open source systems and software that does not allow for any international licences legal juridisications or fees
    (c) Hosted servers in New Zealand with redundancy servers in Aotearoa New Zealand.



  • The New Zealand Government Data Futures Partnership will have a commitment to Te Tiriti and an understanding of Māori Data Sovereignty resulting in more Māori data held by the New Zealand government being shared.


  • Any advocates for Māori Data sovereignty would not use services such as FaceBook and Twitter as their End User Agreements allow the conglomerates that own these services to have Intellectual Property Rights to your information and data.


  • Tertiary institutions recognise that data is a taonga and adapt relevant procedures to all funding and existing data.


  • Any advocates for Māori Data sovereignty will not use commercial software such as Microsoft or Apple which encrypts your data and information into a proprietary format that can only be decrypted and accessed by the commercial software and services. This creates a perpetual cycle of a user being bound by a conglomerate who demands an upgrade cycle of software and hardware to support the new software while having to pay a fee to access and store our own data.


  • It will become common knowledge amongst individuals that Iwi and Māori do not add photos to social media or to the Internet despite the fact that by doing so all rights and ownership are assigned to faceless conglomerates. It is also an old tikanga that our society have forgotten that our older generations once refused to have their photos taken or appear on television. The same tikanga applies to whakapapa and individual names. We often see photos of ta moko and moko kauae being copied from one image to another image of a person. We already see the digital theft of ta moko which as technology grows, an increase in digital theft of moko will become more widespread and obvious.


  • Individuals will become more aware of the risks of the lack of privacy and intellectual property rights of using the web and social media. Social media usage will not be full of personal information of and photos. Individuals and Iwi will use encrypted technologies such as TOR to browse the Internet on their computers and Signal for chatting on their mobile devices.


  1. Facebook Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. Section 9 About Advertisements and Other Commercial Content Served or Enhanced by Facebook. 
  2. Permits any U.S. government agencies to access any information stored within the U.S. legal jurisdiction without your permission or notification to you.
  3. https://www.microsoft.com/en-nz/useterms 

One response to “Māori Data Sovereignty: Utopia or feasible?”

  1. Ratu Tibble says:

    Kia ora Karaitiana. I concur with your case but differ in as much as I believe proprietary rights need to be removed in an international claim against those rights and that includes the removal of ‘copyright’. ‘Freedom of the Internet’ is critical and crucial. This does not preclude localised ‘proprietary rights’ as you claim has been upheld by Maori over the last 200 years or so. The #TPPA adds to the dilemma. We are looking down the barrel of USA colonial claims which we as Maori must seriously reject. I take it that reo has been seized by Google and Microsoft as their proprietary right. I take it the portal rights of entry into the New Zealand are controlled by Waikato University and they may have written limitations already applied against internet businesses such as Google & Microsoft entering NZ. I strongly support the thrust of your case.

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