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Background to Tatauranga Umanga Māori

This chapter describes the historic and strategic context for the Tatauranga Umanga Māori project, which responds to the need for statistics about Māori businesses.

Identifying and collecting data about Māori business

Since the early 1980s, New Zealanders have discussed how to identify Māori business and manage related data collection. The Hui Taumata in 1984 triggered significant interest in the topic. From an official statistics perspective, the biggest challenge is to reach agreement on how a Māori business should be defined. However, Statistics NZ also needs to determine how the Official Statistics System (OSS) would provide information about the Māori contribution to the New Zealand economy – of increasing interest to New Zealand since 1984.

In 2002, we researched what was needed to collect data on Māori businesses, the characteristics of these businesses, and the nature of their business activity. We wanted to be able to measure the contribution that Māori businesses make to New Zealand’s economy.

See Towards a Māori Statistics Framework for more information about this work.

In 2003, we adopted an interim definition within Statistics NZ for a Māori business. Central to this definition was that Māori authorities or iwi owned more than 50 percent of the business. The definition included any subsidiaries that a Māori business owned at least 50 percent of (regardless of whether the subsidiary was a Māori business). It also highlighted the distinction between individual business owners who self-identify as Māori (ethnicity or descent), and collectively-owned entities that exist as a direct consequence of whakapapa (belonging) and tikanga (responsibilities).

In 2008, focus shifted to the potential of producing statistics based on Māori authorities. We adjusted the interim definition of a Māori business to concentrate on Māori authorities, building on Inland Revenue's new tax definition for Māori authorities introduced in the 2004/05 income year (see Section B in Tatauranga Umanga Māori – Consultation paper, 2012).

Using Statistics NZ data and other sources, we identified a broad suite of Māori businesses and matched them with the Business Frame, which is a comprehensive list of businesses and other organisations that produce goods and services in New Zealand. However, we could not verify them as ‘Māori businesses’ under the proposed ‘majority ownership’ definition. We recognised that identifying Māori businesses would be difficult to achieve without some form of self-identification and verification.

In Towards a Māori Statistics Framework (2002), we acknowledged that:

  • Māori statistics were still being collected as a by-product of the information collected for the mainstream population, and very rarely were any of these statistics collected specifically to meet the needs of Māori.
  • What is to be measured and the standards (definitions and classifications) by which the ‘what’ is to be measured were decided on with little or no input from Māori. Therefore the statistics cannot be expected to adequately reflect a Māori world view or fully accommodate Māori realities.
  • Very few of the official statistical series about Māori were the result of planned developments. Most have evolved as a result of a government department’s ad hoc responses to changing statistical information needs. Statistical series that have evolved like this tend to suffer from a lack of transparency, gaps in information, data overlaps, and inconsistencies.
  • A sound statistical framework gives transparency to a statistical system by showing the values that have gone into shaping it. If users have had input – and that input has been heard and understood – users are unlikely to question the relevance of elements that make up the framework.. If questions arise, we can easily test the relevance of the system.

Update: More recently we have worked to overcome deficiencies in the current statistical series. In 2013 we carried out Te Kupenga, our first survey of Māori well-being. Since then we have released a range of information using data from Te Kupenga, on topics including Māori cultural well-being, use of te reo Māori, connection to ancestral marae, trust in institutions, determinants of life satisfaction, and iwi statistics. See Te Kupenga for the latest Māori statistics.

Māori Statistics Framework

As we worked to understand current Māori statistical series, we drafted the Māori Statistics Framework, which we circulated for feedback in 2002. The framework was the starting point for a planned approach to long-term statistical development from a Māori perspective.

We shaped and structured the proposed framework to measure Māori ways (tikanga) of looking at the world and to cast these so they would be measurable. We intended the framework to help us improve the relevance of statistics we collect for Māori individuals and organisations.

See Towards a Māori Statistics Framework (2002) for more information.

Update: In 2014 we published He Arotahi Tatauranga, a statistical framework for Māori information needs. It builds on our previous work in Towards a Māori Statistics Framework (2002), where we presented the Māori Statistics Framework referred to in this paper. See He Arotahi Tatauranga for the updated Māori Statistics Framework. We intended the framework to help us improve the relevance of statistics we collect for Māori individuals and organisations. Tatauranga Umanga Māori supports this goal.

Tatauranga Umanga Māori project

In 2012, we launched the Tatauranga Umanga Māori project as part of the strategic plan’s implementation programme (Te Kāpehu Whetū), Tatauranga Umanga Māori supports the goals of the strategic plan and the Māori Statistics Framework: to provide data ‘for’ and ‘about’ Māori businesses that would also provide information about the contribution of Māori businesses to the New Zealand economy.

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