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This introduction defines the aims of this paper, then describes the Treaty of Waitangi context, discusses the distinction between information for Māori and about Māori, and outlines the main features of the census.

Statistics NZ’s Strategic Plan 2010–2020 recognises the unique relationship accorded Māori as tāngata whenua, in keeping with the Treaty of Waitangi. Statistics NZ will consider the implications of Māori information needs on this basis and understands that this means being able to provide regional and iwi context as well as a national picture. The direction taken for future censuses will have a significant impact on the range and quality of official statistics for Māori because the census is the main source of detailed information below national level.

Aims and method

In this paper we identify information requirements for and about Māori that must be provided by future censuses, however the census is conducted. Beyond establishing these ‘must haves’, we identify other important census information requirements for and about Māori.

Obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi, and through legislation, provide strong evidence that information is essential. Other important uses by key customers, which include central government and Māori organisations, could also justify information needs as essential or of high importance. Our investigations (and this paper) are structured around these three specific areas. We aim to identify:

  • Treaty of Waitangi obligations to provide census information for and about Māori
  • legal obligations to provide census information for and about Māori
  • additional key customer requirements of census information for and about Māori.

This work draws from past and current usage of census data and results of previous user consultation. This provided a preliminary understanding, which we tested and revised by undertaking further targeted consultation. We used the Māori statistics framework, He Arotahi Tatauranga, and acknowledge the input of Statistics NZ’s Māori Advisory Unit, particularly in relation to the Treaty context.

External consultation was conducted through one-on-one meetings with targeted agencies: Te Puni Kōkiri (Ministry of Māori Development), Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori (Māori Language Commission), Te Māngai Paho (Māori Broadcasting Commission), the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Justice (Office of Treaty Settlements and Post Treaty Settlement Unit).

Treaty of Waitangi context

The Treaty of Waitangi (the Treaty) is New Zealand’s founding document and forms part of the constitutional fabric of New Zealand. The history of New Zealand is inextricably linked with the changing relationship between the Crown and Māori. The Treaty has provided, and will continue to provide, the framework that defines the nature of the expectations of this relationship. The courts and the Waitangi Tribunal have played key roles in defining the meaning of the Treaty, using principles to express the mutual responsibilities of the Government and Māori (Constitutional Advisory Panel, 2012). Partnership is the key to New Zealand’s framework (Ministry of Justice, 2011). After historical grievances are settled, the future of this partnership focuses on shifting the dependency of Māori on the Crown towards a more equal relationship and an increasing inter-dependency.

Implications of the Treaty relationship for delivering statistics

Within the Treaty framework, both Crown and Māori expectations need to be considered, particularly as the nation moves past the Treaty settlement period. The Crown responsibilities to Māori are for Māori to succeed as Māori (ie well-being and development on their own terms), and to have equity as citizens (see figure 1). These responsibilities are met through policy and resources. One such resource is information: information that is accessible and useful to both the Crown and Māori; information that can help benchmark and monitor progress towards Māori well-being and development.

Figure 1 illustrates the partnership between Māori and the Crown, where information is needed for both parties to fulfil all of their requirements as Treaty partners.

Figure 1

Partnership between Māori and the Crown, based on Treaty of Waitangi
Image, Partnership between Maori and the Crown, based on Treaty of Waitangi.

Māori are now increasingly able to self-determine their development as Māori. Māori entities (eg runanga (tribal councils), and pan-Māori organisations) are defining development progress from a Māori perspective. The relevant measures of development progress tend to be ‘for Māori’ statistics. Although Māori will help provide some data to underpin their decision-making processes, they will have a growing expectation of the Crown making available priority information relevant to Māori self-determined development.

However, it is important to note that much as Māori wish to know that Māori development is occurring in line with Māori aspirations, equally the Crown wishes to know that investment in Treaty settlement is resulting in Māori development – as anticipated through the avenue of self-determination. The Ministry of Justice established a Post Settlements Commitment Unit in 2013, “which will work with other agencies, local government and iwi to look after the commitments made in settlements and to build on the opportunities settlements create.” (Ministry of Justice, 2013)

The other way information will be needed in the future will be for Māori to see that their rights as citizens are being delivered. This includes information that supports good decision-making and effective policy-setting by the Crown, to help ensure that initiatives for Māori provide good value for money. This type of information tends to be ‘about’ Māori; it not only helps the Crown to make informed decisions, but also assists Māori to monitor the Crown’s progress to deliver citizenship equity for Māori.

Information requirements for and about Māori

The difference between information requirements for Māori and information requirements about Māori is important. Both types are needed to provide a full picture of Māori well-being.

He Arotahi Tatauranga (Statistics NZ 2014), details that traditionally Māori have appeared in statistical publications as a separate ethnic group within the wider population. This has meant a focus on how Māori compare with other ethnic groups and the total population. For example, we have statistics on the Māori unemployment rate, the Māori crime rate, and the median income of Māori.

These can be called statistics about Māori in that they define Māori by their similarity to, or difference from, the population in general. These have validity as statistics and play and important role in understanding whether or not equitable outcomes between groups are being achieved.

Statistics for Māori are statistics that enable Māori well-being and development as Māori to be measured (ie as the indigenous population). They focus on how Māori value the world, the activities that Māori do and what makes them unique. Typically, statistics for Māori would encompass breakdowns that are meaningful to Māori, such as iwi (tribe), hapū (sub-tribe), and whānau (family), and geographic breakdowns that include rohe (region).

An example of a statistic for Māori would be Māori language speakers by iwi, and rohe. Sometimes the difference between statistics about Māori and for Māori is the level of breakdown and the usefulness to Māori users (He Arotahi Tatauranga, 2014).

Figure 2 shows the types of conceptual information needed to meet the requirements in a Māori-Crown relationship. Both statistics for and about Māori are needed. They can be produced by either Māori or the Crown. It is a priority to have both types of information available in cases where Māori and the Crown need to exercise decision-making together so a fully informed decision is made, for example over a common resource or issue (such as the preservation of Māori language).

Figure 2

Crown Māori priority information

Image, Crown Maori priority information.

Census context

The census is one example of how information is provided by the Official Statistics System (OSS) for Māori information needs, but it is not the only one. The Census Transformation programme’s focus is on meeting information needs that are best suited to using the census as a vehicle.

The New Zealand Census of Population and Dwellings (the census) is currently held every five years, as legislated by the Statistics Act 1975. The primary role of the census is to provide population and dwelling counts for New Zealand, for regions and territorial authorities, and for smaller geographic areas such as area units and meshblocks. The census is also the only comprehensive source of information about the social and economic characteristics of local communities and small population groups.

Advantages and constraints of the current census

The census is uniquely placed to provide total counts of the whole population, and more specifically counts of sub-populations such as Māori. It also provides social and economic information about people and dwellings (attributes), which can be produced for small geographic areas or small population groups like iwi. The census currently meets Māori information needs by providing population counts by ethnicity, Māori descent, and iwi affiliation; and other characteristics of the population such as speakers of te reo Māori, qualifications, or employment.

Māori are defined and counted in two ways in the census: through ethnicity and through Māori descent. Māori ethnicity and Māori descent are different concepts – ethnicity refers to cultural affiliation, while descent is about ancestry. Ethnicity is the ethnic group or groups that a person identifies with or feels they belong to (see appendix 2).

As well as the census having advantages, it imposes constraints as a self-administered survey of the entire population. These include the need to have questions that are readily answered by the general public. The census is not suitable for questions that apply only to very small and specific groups of the population (eg one applying to a small number of Māori) or questions which are complex. For example, the census would not be a suitable way to collect information about whānau support and/or well-being within a Māori community – while these are very important to Māori, they apply only to Māori and not to other small population groups. A survey such as Te Kupenga (the Māori Social Survey) caters better to these specific and more complex information needs.

Future of the census

The range and quality of current census information is an important benchmark when considering alternative approaches. However, this does not mean that future censuses will provide exactly the same information as the current five-yearly census. A census based on administrative data sources would face different constraints, and present different opportunities. Trade-offs will have to be weighed up when considering alternative means of obtaining census information that may have advantages such as more frequent data, or significantly lower costs. This means challenging users of census information to think about what information they need, how often they need it, and how accurate it needs to be.

As leader of the OSS, Statistics NZ is a key producer of statistics and plays a significant role in defining and influencing how Māori statistical needs and interests are measured and reported in the public domain and official statistics (Statistics New Zealand, in press a). Whatever a future census looks like, it must respond to the post-Treaty settlement environment where Māori are self-determining their own development, on their own terms. The census must uphold Statistics NZ’s commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi by providing information needed by both Treaty partners – to work positively together, for mutual benefit, towards nation-building.

Sections 3 to 5 of this paper describe Statistics NZ’s obligations under the Treaty, legal obligations, and other key uses of census information for and about Māori. Section 6 summarises the findings, and the paper concludes by considering some implications. Treaty obligations

Under the Crown’s Treaty of Waitangi obligations, Statistics NZ must work in partnership and continue to develop the relationship with iwi and Māori. Statistics NZ needs to focus on an effective engagement when and where it matters, especially for census transformation. Māori information provided by the census must be of enduring need to both Treaty partners – agreement on this relies on a strong agile partnership.

The Treaty underpins the obligations and other information requirements of census information for and about Māori. The relationship between Crown and Māori is moving to focus on working together for mutual benefit. Given the changing nature of the relationship, the transformation process for census will need to be agile enough to respond to enduring information needs for both Treaty partners.

Treaty obligations require us to measure both Māori ethnicity and Māori descent populations. This includes recognising the diversity within Māori populations. It also requires sound information to support international comparisons, and address ongoing and emerging questions of indigenous sovereignty (Statistics New Zealand, 2012b).

It is a priority to have information both for and about Māori available where Māori and the Crown need to exercise decision-making together, so a fully informed decision is made; for example, over a common resource or issue (such as preserving Māori language).

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