May 9, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

How can data and statistics help your whanau, hapu, iwi? #MaoriBigData

5 min read


Data is a taonga.

When we hear whakapapa recited, it links the people to the land across multiple dimensions. The same can be said when a waka is carved, in that the calculations required for every little step need to be fully thought-through and executed with exact precision.

Many of us would watch our kuia and koroua weave tukutuku panels and korowai with an intimate eye to detail, where every nuance is laboured and when complete, a design is left that simply takes your breath away.

The same can be said that statistics are a taonga as well.

At a recent Statistics NZ hui in Wellington, the esteemed academic Manuka Henare stated that the Maori population doubles every 30 years, which means that by 2040 there could be as many as 1 million people who share whakapapa. That figure is incredible.

So in an effort to understand how to better interpret the figures, we here at would like to share with you some of the amazing tools designed by Statistics New Zealand that can help you think about, gather, organise, connect, and make sense of information for your whanau, hapu, marae, land trust, kohanga, kura, roopu or iwi.

Statistics NZ

One click and you’ll find yourself looking at the latest information, news releases and online tools. Data is constantly being received from all across the country which is then turned into useful reports, such as retail spending, population numbers, food prices, visitor numbers.

  • One recent report stated that Maori in general trust the police and health system more than other institutions. A 2013 survey of Maori well-being, showed police and health are the top-rated institutions by Maori, closely followed by the courts and education. The ‘system of government’ and media institutions are rated lowest. The research showed that levels of trust in the police are highest among young Maori (aged 15-19 years) and older Maori (65+), with lower ratings in between.

This report, and many others, can be found on the Releases section.

If you scroll down to the bottom right of the homepage under Quick links, you can access Maori Statistics.  This section has an amazing array of online resources for whanau to access and utilise. There is a thoughtful korero on how to think about information by and for Maori, latest news, interest areas and specific links to Census 2013, in particular Iwi Profiles.

As examples, here are two sets of figures for my hapu Ngati Whakaue me Ngati Pikiao:

Te Matauranga o Ngati Whakaue

The Ngati Whakaue (Te Arawa) population includes all people of Maori descent who gave Ngati Whakaue (Te Arawa) as their iwi or as one of several iwi.

8,337 people, or 1.2 percent of the total population of Maori descent, affiliated with Ngati Whakaue. For people affiliating with Ngati Whakaue and living in New Zealand on 5 March 2013:

[table id=2 /]

For people aged 15 years and over affiliating with Ngati Whakaue and living in New Zealand on 5 March 2013:

 [table id=3 /]

Te Matauranga o Ngati Pikiao

For people aged 15 years and over affiliating with Ngati Pikiao and living in New Zealand on 5 March 2013:

  • 70.9 percent held a formal qualification, compared with 68.7 percent of the total population of Maori descent. In 2006, 63.9 percent held a formal qualification.
  • 13.1 percent (645 people) held a bachelor’s degree or higher as their highest qualification, an increase from 9.8 percent (426 people) in 2006.
  • Women were more likely than men to have a formal qualification, 73.0 percent compared with 68.0 percent.
  • 29.1 percent held no formal qualification. In 2006, this figure was 36.1 percent.
  • 52.5 percent of people aged 65 years and over had no formal qualification, compared with 25.4 percent of those aged 15-29 years and 27.9 percent of those aged 30-64 years.

By having access to these statistics, our whanau can start to see the broader picture when it comes to our hapu/iwi and start planning accordingly.

For whanau interested in the level of te reo Maori proficiency and te reo Maori speakers, the section from Te Kupenga 2013 will be of interest:

“In 2013, an estimated 257,500 (55 percent) Maori aged 15+ self-reported that they had some ability to speak te reo Maori; that is, they could speak more than a few words or phrases in the language. Overall, 50,000 (11 percent) could speak te reo Maori ‘very well’ or ‘well’ and 44 percent could speak ‘fairly well’ or ‘not very well’. The remaining 45 percent could speak ‘no more than a few words or phrases’.

Nearly 3 out of 5 (58 percent) Maori women had some te reo Maori speaking skills. This included 12 percent who could speak Maori very well or well, and 46 percent who spoke fairly well or not very well. For Maori men these figures were 9 percent and 42 percent, respectively.

The sex difference in the proportion that spoke te reo Maori well or very well was greatest among younger age groups. At ages 15-24 and 25-34, women were considerably more likely than men to speak te reo Maori well or very well. For Maori aged 55+ a higher proportion of men than women spoke well or very well (18 percent compared with 16 percent).



Te Kupenga itself was the first survey to measure Maori cultural well-being, starting from the key principle of connecting. Statistics NZ recognised that culture comes from the importance of cultural knowledge, values, and behaviours that allow individuals to connect with each other and their surrounding environments, and the resulting sense of self and belonging. Starting from this principle, Te Kupenga focused on four areas of cultural well-being:

  • wairua (spirituality)
  • tikanga (Maori customs and practices)
  • te reo Maori (the Maori language)
  • whanaungatanga (social connectedness)

The digital tool we had the biggest tutu with was He Arotahi Tatauranga.

He Arotahi Tatauranga is described as tool that has many entry points and many pathways where whanau can ask questions, navigate and find a range of answers for their information needs.

During a 2-hour session, we learned about the framework and structure of He Arotahi Tatauranga, reading through the Guide and determining the best entry point to start our journey. From there, we selected the topic of interest (for example, Waahi Tapu) and the dimension (Environmental Sustainability) and cross-referenced both to find a connecting kaupapa (Waahi Tapu need to be sustained for future generations). These simple measures for Maori could now be used as reference points for larger conversations, such as developing Environmental Management Plans or for project groups keen to design a larger framework for their data-capture within a Marae or Hapu context.

There was so much to learn about the tools, teachings and training provided by Statistics New Zealand that we at will be spending the next 3 months sharing information, korero, tips and contact details relevant to this subject.

If you are interested in learning more, please email [email protected] or you can contact Stats NZ direct on [email protected]

Statistics-New-Zealand_2I would like to send a big mihi to Karen Coutts and Bob Hill – kei te mihi aroha ki a korua rangatira – and also many thanks to John, Wes, Linda, Pedro and all the team at Statistics New Zealand for all of your hard work and tireless efforts. We very much look forward to sharing more informed and exciting information. Kei te mihi, kei te mihi.

Huakina te papakiri, ka kite te taikaka.
Open the bark of the tree so we can see the heartwood.

Broaden our view of information so we can better understand Maori well-being and the ways to achieve it.


1 thought on “How can data and statistics help your whanau, hapu, iwi? #MaoriBigData

  1. Ka pai Potaua! There is actually more data that helps us to think more sharply about who we are, and where we need to get to, than many assume. When I led the development of Te Kupenga at Stats, there was a huge concern that M?ori didn’t like statistics because they tell us we are mad, bad and sad! But my belief, inspired by the likes of Whatarangi, Hirini Moko (Linda Smith’s Papa), Mason and Pou Temara, was that there was a deeper story about who we are; that this is not only good, but is a critical part of our way forward, and we needed to count that too! Not just te reo, but Tikanga, and modern day expressions too, including wh?nau in modern times. We have counted all of this, and it helps not only inform our development, but provides us with an ability to monitor progress over time! Kia kaha e hoa!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.