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Review of the statistical standard for iwi: Summary of key points

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Statistics NZ is currently reviewing the statistical standard for iwi (including the classification for iwi). The standard provides guidelines for collecting and reporting information on iwi in New Zealand. It was developed in 1994 and has not been reviewed since then.

We aim to better meet the current and future needs of those who use iwi statistics by reviewing the concepts, definitions, criteria, and procedures that we and other government agencies use to collect information about iwi.

We will look at feedback from Māori, iwi, government, and the general public on topics such as:

  • whether different types of information (eg hapū, marae, or location), in addition to iwi, could improve the quality and use of iwi statistics
  • how to decide which groups, and which types of groups, are included in our classification(s) (list of groups)
  • whether the current concept and definition remain useful for measuring iwi and Māori identity groups.

There is potential for a number of benefits to arise from the review. The standard and classification could better reflect a personal sense of belonging for Māori identity groupings. For example, the classification could better reflect all iwi and enable greater access to information on all iwi groups, not just those on the current list. The review will also consider whether all people who report an iwi should be counted in that group, even if they have missed answering the Māori descent question. Additionally, regional information could be improved through a consideration of the types of geographic information that might provide better data than what currently exists.

The discussion and outcomes of the review may go beyond iwi to consider how classification(s) could include other types of Māori groupings, for example hapū.

Current and future data needs will guide the creation of a statistical standard and classification(s) that provide iwi, Māori, and government with the information they need. This will benefit Māori, iwi, other tangata whenua groupings (for example hapū), and others who use this information.

A discussion and engagement process to collect submissions will open on 18 April 2016 and close on 12 June 2016. This will help guide how we collect information in the next census.

See Statistical standard for iwi: 2016 review for instructions on making a submission.

Once the discussion and engagement period has closed, we will consider all feedback and we expect to finalise a report by 30 September 2016. Using the feedback we will begin drafting the statistical standard in the following phase.


This section contains definitions related to Māori groupings. The sources of the definitions are included. As part of the review we are seeking feedback on these definitions to help us decide what will be included in the statistical standard.


  1. Kinship group, clan, tribe, sub-tribe; section of a large kinship group. (Source: Māori dictionary online)
  2. A sub-tribe; most iwi are comprised of two or more hapū, although a number of smaller iwi have marae but no hapū. (Source: Te Kāhui Māngai)
  3. Descent group, clan; modern meaning: section of a tribe, secondary tribe; literally: to have conceived. (Source: Te Ara)


  1. The iwi today is the focal economic and political unit of the traditional Māori descent and kinship based hierarchy of:

    Waka (founding canoe)

    Iwi (tribe)

    Hapū (sub-tribe)

    Whānau (family).

    (Source: Statistical standard for iwi, Statistics NZ)
  2. Extended kinship group, tribe, nation, people, nationality, race – often refers to a large group of people descended from a common ancestor. (Source: Māori dictionary online)
  3. In the context of Te Kāhui Māngai (Directory of Iwi and Māori Organisations), an iwi is a Māori tribe descended from a common named ancestor or ancestors, and is usually comprised of a number of hapū. (Source: Te Kāhui Māngai)
  4. Set of people bound together by descent from a common ancestor or ancestors; literally: bone; modern meaning: tribe. (Source: Te Ara)


  1. The set of all natural and human-made surroundings that affect individuals, social groupings, and other life, including the air, land, water, and constructed facilities.
  2. An area or district considered as the site of certain activities; a neighbourhood. (Source: Glosbe English-Maori dictionary)

Mana whenua

  1. The exercise of traditional authority over an area of land [whenua]. In the context of Te Kāhui Māngai it is the area over which particular iwi and hapū claim historical and contemporary interests. (Source: Te Kāhui Māngai)


  1. An ancient institution from the eastern Pacific used for social and/or religious purposes. In most parts of tropical Polynesia marae were largely abandoned with the arrival of Christianity but still remain tapu (sacred) today. However, in Aotearoa New Zealand, the marae is still a vital part of everyday life where Māori culture can be celebrated, where te reo Māori can be spoken, where intertribal obligations can be met, and where important ceremonies, such as welcoming visitors or farewelling the dead (tangihanga), can be performed.

    The marae has developed over time and can include traditional tribal-based ancestral marae, as well as marae that are non-kin based, for example marae that have been established by schools, urban groups, and churches, where people can gather and interact using tikanga Māori (Māori customs and practices). (Source: Te Kupenga).
  2. A traditional meeting place for whānau, hapū, and iwi members usually characterised by a named wharenui [meeting house] and named wharekai [dining house]. Some marae are more commonly known by the name of their wharenui, which is usually named after a tupuna [ancestor]. (Source: Te Kāhui Māngai)
  3. The open area in front of the wharenui, where formal greetings and discussions take place. Often also used to include the complex of buildings around the marae. (Source: Māori dictionary online)
  4. Open space or courtyard where people gather, generally in front of a main building or meeting house; forum of social life; modern meaning: the complex of buildings surrounding the courtyard and the courtyard itself. (Source: Te Ara)


  1. Tribal district; the area over which iwi and hapū claim mana whenua. (Source: Te Kāhui Māngai)
  2. Boundary, district, region, territory, area, border (of land). (Source: Māori dictionary online)

Tangata whenua

  1. Literally: person or people of the land; people belonging to a tribal region; hosts as distinct from visitors. (Source: Te Ara)

Urban Māori authorities/Tribal authorities

  1. Multi-tribal organisations known as urban Māori authorities. These organisations play an important role in social and economic issues affecting urban Māori. They deliver education, health, employment training, and other social services. (Source: Te Ara)

Urban marae

  1. Non-traditional marae, not specifically associated with any particular hapū, although the mana whenua of the hapū / iwi at the marae site is often acknowledged. They often serve as meeting places for the wider community and may commonly also be called community; Ngā Hau e Whā; Ngā Mātā Waka; or pan-tribal marae. (Source: Te Kahui Mangai)


  1. Originally people identified themselves with the waka (canoe) on which their founding ancestor arrived from Hawaiki. The earliest iwi (tribes) and hapū (clans or descent groups) formed as the descendants of waka groups expanded over succeeding generations. (Source: Te Ara)
  2. Canoe, vehicle, conveyance. (Source: Māori dictionary online)


  1. Family or extended family. (Source: Te Kāhui Māngai)
  2. Extended family, family group, a familiar term of address to a number of people – the primary economic unit of traditional Māori society. In the modern context the term is sometimes used to include friends who may not have any kinship ties to other members. (Source: Māori dictionary online)

Page published 2 June 2016

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