Election 2020 – Greenpeace welcomes Greens’ transport policy, calls for climate to be bottom line

Source: Greenpeace
Tuesday, 29 September: Greenpeace has welcomed the Green Party’s transport policy announced today, but is seeking assurances that the Greens will make clean transport a bottom line in any potential coalition agreement.
The Greens are promising to invest $1.5 billion in cycling, alongside a sizable programme of intercity passenger rail, busways and commuter rail infrastructure. They have pledged to ban the import of new fossil fuel vehicles, most likely by 2030. They will also introduce the “feebate” scheme and minimum fuel efficiency standards.
Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner, Amanda Larsson, welcomed the announcement, saying:
“Transport is New Zealand’s fastest growing source of carbon emissions, and it’s easy to see why when we’re importing around 60 gas guzzling SUVs and double-cab utes for every electric car.
“It’s good to see that the Greens will ban the import of new petrol and diesel vehicles, and instead invest significantly in alternatives like cycling, buses, inter-city rail and electric vehicles.
“We’re in a climate crisis. The world is literally burning with wildfires raging in California less than a year after the Australian bushfires covered New Zealand in an apocalyptic red haze. We urgently need to stop pumping carbon into the atmosphere.
“Making it easy for people to ride a bike locally or get a train between cities is key to cutting our carbon pollution, improving mobility and improving health. We need accessible, convenient and affordable transport options so that people don’t have to rely on cars to get to work or school.”
While Greenpeace has applauded the policy, Larsson says they still need convincing that the Green Party’s ambitious wishlist of transport initiatives will translate into action, should the Greens form part of the next Government.
“The Green Party needs to assure New Zealanders that they will make climate change and clean transport a bottom line in negotiating any potential coalition agreement.
“This term we’ve seen a number of strong Green Party policies go off the rails, notably the promised electric vehicle ‘feebate’, which is now back on the table. Climate change doesn’t negotiate. We need political leaders that will stand firm in their commitment to safeguard the natural world that we all depend on.”
Greenpeace is calling on all political parties to commit to using the Covid-19 recovery as a springboard from which to build back better and address the worsening climate and environmental crises.
“As we invest in creating jobs to address the impacts of the pandemic, we have a unique opportunity to build back better,” says Larsson.
“With billions of dollars of Covid Recovery funds on the table, there couldn’t be a better time to build modern, accessible and convenient low-carbon transport infrastructure.
“Today’s young people will need to deal with the debt from our economic response to Covid-19. We must build back in ways that create a more secure and resilient future for our children.”

Universities – UC student president among Women of Influence award finalists

Source: University of Canterbury

One of the women leading Canterbury into the future, the University of Canterbury Students’ Association President Tori McNoe has been shortlisted for the Women of Influence Young Leader award.

A UC Bachelor of Criminal Justice graduate completing a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Sociology and Psychology, McNoe (Te Arawa) describes herself as “an impressionable young Māori leader”.

“I’m always looking to broaden my horizons. I hold a particular interest in youth and our place in the world and I want my work to reflect that. I seek to enjoy everything I do and aim to inspire others to do the same,” she says.

“I come from a small town where there aren't a lot of opportunities for young people. They can end up getting in trouble with drugs, crime and depression. So I’m interested in how the law can actually help youth. My long-term goal is to work in police intelligence, with a focus on youth justice. Additionally, I know we have power in governance, so I always want to be involved in keeping youth in those spaces and confident at the table.”

As 2019 UCSA Vice-President, she went into her 2020 presidency with her eyes open to the realities of the role, its challenges and responsibilities.

McNoe has also made a huge contribution to the entrepreneurship sector of Canterbury, mentoring and encouraging local businesses onto campus to mentor and work with student entrepreneurs.

She is an Interim Regional Skills Leadership Group member at Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, on behalf of UC – something that is above and beyond her role as UCSA President.

She is also serving on The Board of Momentum, an investment board that gives advice and offers mentorship and funding to young entrepreneurs.

“Our work should equip the next generation of women to outdo us in every field. This is the legacy we’ll leave behind,” McNoe says.

She made history this year when she and UCSA Vice-President Katie Mills took office, making UC the first and (so far) only Aotearoa New Zealand university to be led by women. McNoe and Mills are the first female duo to lead the UC students’ association since it began in 1894. Last year, for the first time since it was founded in 1873, UC appointed two women to lead the university – lawyer and UC alumna Sue McCormack as its new Chancellor, and former Vice-Chancellor of South Africa’s largest research university (University of Pretoria) Professor Cheryl de la Rey as UC’s Vice-Chancellor.

Other UC graduates among the list of Women of Influence finalists include:

·         CEO & Director of Research of Matai, Samantha Holdsworth
A finalist for the Innovation, Science & Health award, she is a pioneer of fast, high-resolution MRI methods and amplified MRI (a new method of visualising brain motion).

·         CEO & Founder of The Rubbish Whisperer Limited, Helen Townsend
A finalist for the Business Enterprise award, her company specialises in eco-friendly products made locally and is a market leader in innovative products to reduce plastic waste.

About the awards: The Women of Influence programme helps share the remarkable stories of women who are making a difference to the lives of New Zealanders. Each year, the awards programme shines a light on the amazing work Kiwi women are doing, from grassroots level to the global stage, and helps propel future leaders and rising stars to bigger and better things.

Social Issues – Advisory: Child Poverty Stats Explanation/ Background info

Source: Child Poverty Action Group
Child poverty stats can be tricky; We’ve put this information together in the hope it helps assist interpretation.
It’s too early to see how child poverty changed this term of government, on Stats NZ measures. More timely (but proxy) poverty indicators include employment, welfare, health, housing & foodbank stats.
There are two main reasons it’s too early to see if/how child poverty changed in this government term: data time period & sample error. All Stats NZ child poverty measures reflect change slowly as each is informed by two years of data, while analysis takes several months.
So the latest 2019 child poverty figures, released in Feb 2020, actually reflect data mid-2017 to mid-2019. That means, for example, effects of the Coalition Government's Families Package are only partially included in the most recent data, because it didn’t come in until mid-2018.
This is because data come from the Household Economic Survey, & HES is conducted over 12 months, & every respondent is asked about their income -over the 12 previous months-. (Btw, latest figures released reflect responses from 20,000 households, rather than 3500-5500 previously)
Sample error: To see how likely the reported annual change is, we have to compare it to its “sample error” (like “margin of error”). (Righthand columns in the table at end of this Stats NZ release) https://stats.govt.nz/news/latest-child-poverty-statistics-released
If an “annual change” is a smaller change than “sample error on change”, then it is “not statistically significant”. For these figures, that means we cannot be 95% sure that the change really happened as reported. If an “annual change” is a smaller change than “sample error on change”, then the smaller it is, the less certain we can be that it actually happened. (Thanks to StatsNZ for their clear & comprehensive explanations; any errors are our own.)
In the latest release, only 2 of the 9 child poverty measures (“a” & “e”) reported by StatsNZ had annual changes bigger or the same as the “sample error on change”. Material hardship, for example, remained similar to what it was previously (that's all we know).
The graph at the end of this webpage (and attached) shows child poverty “moving line” relative poverty over 13 years (StatsNZ measures f, g & h). The lines waver sometimes, but the flat trend over time is partially why CPAG maintains we need to see a -significant- reduction of child poverty across after-housing-costs & hardship figures, sustained over several years before we can say government policies have helped lift the burden of poverty from our children & tamariki and their whānau.

Serious Fraud Office – SFO files charges in relation to NZ First Foundation donations

Source: Serious Fraud Office

The SFO has filed a charge of ‘Obtaining by Deception’ against two defendants in the New Zealand First Foundation electoral funding case. The charges were filed on 23 September.

The defendants have interim name suppression and so cannot be named or identified at this time. We note, however, that neither defendant is a Minister, sitting MP, or candidate in the upcoming election (or a member of their staff), or a current member of the New Zealand First party.

The SFO has no further comment.

Politics – New Zealand First fully exonerated of all SFO charges – Peters

Source: New Zealand First

New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters says today’s decision by the Serious Fraud Office exonerates the New Zealand First Party of any electoral law breaches.

Having fully investigated the allegations the SFO has cleared the New Zealand First Party, all of its Ministers, all sitting members of the New Zealand First party, all candidates standing for election and all party employees of any wrongdoing.

“It is a relief after months of this cloud hanging over the party that we have been fully cleared,” stated Mr Peters.

“Unlike the recent National Party donation scandal, no party member has been implicated or charged by the SFO.”

Notwithstanding the cloud being lifted, New Zealand First’s leader also expressed his dismay at the timing and conduct of the SFO decision.

“Whilst the SFO has confirmed that no New Zealand First Minister, parliamentarian or party member broke any electoral laws, the timing of its decision to lay charges against the Foundation constitutes a James Comey-level error of judgement,” said Mr Peters.

“It’s an appalling intrusion in a period when the people begin to think seriously about the shape of their next government.

“It has been amply demonstrated that FBI Director Comey’s groundless findings impacted on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign. Allegations were made about me in 2008 which the SFO found to be baseless.

“While we respect its independence, the SFO cannot justify the timing of its decision.

“It is quite shocking for any who believe in fair elections that the SFO, one day from overseas voting and four days from advance voting beginning, would interpose itself into the General Election in this poorly conceived fashion.

“The Foundation is an entirely separate entity from the New Zealand First Party but that distinction will be lost on some, and deliberately confused by others,” said Mr Peters.

“The way in which this investigation has been conducted raises serious questions about the conduct of the Serious Fraud Office.

“In my opinion, the SFO has acted unreasonably and without justification both in the way in which the investigation has been conducted and in public announcements the SFO has chosen to make about the investigation in breach of the Serious Fraud Office’s own written policy of not commenting on investigations until the first appearance of any accused facing charges,” stated Mr Peters.

“As a result, the New Zealand First Party has instructed its lawyers to issue proceedings in the High Court against the Serious Fraud Office seeking declarations that the Serious Fraud Office has amounted to an abuse of its statutory powers and has been unreasonable.

“Compounding the SFO’s poor judgement are three other matters. First, the SFO’s still incomplete investigation of foreign money flowing into the National Party. We know they were provided significantly more serious information about the pernicious foreign influence campaign that penetrated the National Party. Yet only a portion of those electoral breaches resulted in charges. Why?

“Second, if voters need to hear from the SFO before the election where are its findings about Labour’s mayoral electoral funding in both Christchurch and Auckland?

“Third, what about the SFO’s investigation into donations made to Labour in 2017?

“How is that fair? It is not.

“Voters will judge for themselves the fairness of the SFO’s actions.

“Notwithstanding today’s exoneration by the SFO, taxpayer-funded and other journalists, those who have spilled litres of ink in trying to destroy New Zealand First, must now confront the truth that not one Minister, MP, or party member has been anything other than fully exonerated,” stated Mr Peters.

“The point also needs to be repeated to those same journalists attempting to smear me and my party, that New Zealand First is completely separate from the Foundation.

“Neither I nor any other party is allowed to make any further comment on this matter because it is now sub-judice.”

Universities – A sustainable new solution for ageing, corroding infrastructure – University of Canterbury

Source: University of Canterbury

Surrounded by ocean, most of New Zealand’s reinforced-concrete infrastructure lies close to the coast, making it susceptible to corrosion. Could new glass-based reinforcing hold the answer?


New research at the University of Canterbury (UC) led by Structural Engineering Professor Alessandro Palermo has highlighted the impact deterioration can have on the performance of structures. This research is important, especially given recent deadly bridge failures, such as the Morandi bridge in Italy, which collapsed due to corrosion and structural weakness, killing 43 people in 2018.

Safety is key in bridge design, but what about ongoing costs associated with the repair and rehabilitation of ageing infrastructure?

“The way we build our future infrastructure should be more sustainable and not only limited to the construction carbon footprint,” Professor Palermo says.

“In the next 30 to 50 years, we will have more people, more bridges and probably less money to maintain our infrastructure. We need to look forward and opt for more durable materials. This will significantly reduce maintenance costs and increase structural life-cycles.”

One alternative gaining international interest is the use of non-metallic reinforcing bars. Glass Fibre-Reinforced Polymer (GFRP) bars have proved to be a promising substitute for steel reinforcement in structures subject to harsh environments. Corrosion-free, they have higher tensile strength than steel with only a quarter of the weight.

University of Canterbury (UC) PhD candidate Cain Stratford is investigating how GFRP bars may be used in reinforced-concrete bridge columns to achieve a superior design life for the bridge, while maintaining sufficient seismic performance.

“Construction of the columns was made noticeably easier by the lightweight nature of the GFRP bars. The experiment has been designed to simulate the loading that a bridge pier may be expected to withstand during a seismic event. Initial results from our tests have shown that a combination of GFRP bars with conventional steel can be an optimum choice to guarantee both excellent seismic performance and an increase in the usable life of the structure,” Stratford says.

“I believe that the outcomes of this study will result in a major design shift in the field of bridge engineering, with structural application soon in New Zealand,” Professor Palermo says.

Last year, the University of Miami (UM) published ‘Durability of GFRP Bars Extracted from Bridges with 15 to 20 Years of Service Life’ showing that the GFRP rebars maintained over 97% of their original strength with no sign of corrosion. UM has been studying the extremely high durability of Mateenbar™, manufactured by New Zealand company, Pultron Composites.


Callaghan Innovation sponsored the PhD programme aiming to increase the use of GFRP rebars in New Zealand.

UC Connect public lecture: Earthquakes + Innovation = Resilience, Wednesday 30 September  
Professor Alessandro Palermo will be presenting with Professor Geoff Rodgers and Distinguished Professor Geoff Chase at the UC Connect public lecture: Earthquakes + Innovation = Resilience on Wednesday 30 September at the TSB Space, Tūranga. Find out more and register to attend free here>

Education – Wintec women in engineering are making a stand

Source: Wintec

Wintec’s women engineers featured in an image on social media recently with the words “We are a diverse engineering team” and were surprised at the attention they got. The post was so popular, it generated a notification from LinkedIn they were trending on #engineering.

Engineering may often be considered a man’s world but Wintec Engineering teachers, Dr Maryam Moridnejad, Sarla Kumari, Josy Cooper, Elena Eskandarymalayery and their manager, Dr Trudy Harris don’t agree. They want to see more diversity in their engineering classes, and they are on a mission to change up the ratio.

The five women have a mix of mechanical, civil and electrical qualifications.

Wintec Group Director, Trades and Engineering and Industrial Design, Dr Shelley Wilson says women make up 5-10 percent of engineering students at Wintec and the future is looking bright for graduates who can expect diverse opportunities.

“We work closely with industry to train engineers for an evolving workplace which is responding to new demands for technology, climate change and the influence of COVID-19.

“The scope for engineering careers is exciting and graduates can aim for careers in the manufacturing, roading and other areas of infrastructure, power industry, chemical and mechatronics areas for example. These environments are attracting a diverse workforce.”

Kumari says the perception of engineering sometimes doesn’t help.

“Many people believe engineering is about working outside,  getting your hands dirty and a study path with a maths-heavy study component.

“Engineering offers broad opportunities and engineers mainly work in an office designing and creating projects for people.”

Cooper agrees that engineering is people orientated as well as project focussed.

“Everything you design has to work with and be for people. It can be really compelling as a career.”

Dr Moridnejad, who shared the trending post about diversity on LinkedIn says that in her home country, Iran, with more restrictions on women, there are more female engineers than in New Zealand.

Surprised at the female engineering student ratio in New Zealand, and curious, (a trait with engineers), she wanted to find out why.

Since last year, she collaborated with Cooper and Associate Professor Wendy Fox-Turnbull from the University of Waikato on a research project to find out influencing factors and barriers for selection of engineering pathways for women in New Zealand.  

“So far, in the New Zealand context, we found that barriers to selection of engineering pathway for females include the school system; a lack of career and subject choice guidance available to students at school, a lack of promotion of the profession, and society’s perception of engineers as being masculine – ‘a tradie working in a workshop’.

“Unfortunately, the low number of women studying engineering at tertiary level is not just a problem here in New Zealand. Worldwide around 10 percent of students studying engineering are females. The lack of female participation in engineering fields at the tertiary education level has been a barrier for diversity and equality in both the engineering industry and associated professions.

“We are hearing from teenage girls that stereotypes on what girls can and can’t do, persist in our community,” says Dr Moridnejad.

Dr Moridnejad who has a PhD in civil and environmental engineering from the University of Auckland and a master’s degree in water engineering from the University of Tehran is sharing her love of engineering by profiling engineers, and their study journeys on Instagram. She invites anyone interested to follow her @maryam.moridnejad.

Recently Wintec’s Engineering team created a challenge for students from Sacred Heart Girls’ College, Melville High School and St John’s College in Hamilton. The students had all shown interest in a career in Engineering and signed up for a STAR Engineering Taster Day.

Eighteen students took part each day, over three days.

The challenges they created covered the full suite of engineering practice offered at Wintec – civil, mechanical and electrical.

The students had to design and build a solar-powered moon rover and a bridge for it to cross.

 “It just wouldn’t be engineering without a bridge,” said Cooper.

The girls from Sacred Heart College managed the fastest time.

“They nailed it!” laughs Cooper. “By lunchtime they were done.”

“The girls listened, and they were organised, but the boys had the edge on the bridge,” adds Kumari.

The boys from St John’s and Melville built a very structurally sound bridge.

“There are very few girls considering engineering as a career and when there are women in engineering, they do well,” says Cooper.

The engineers agree that now is a great time to study

“The Government is spending money on infrastructure so there is potential for employment,” says Kumari.

“There are broad opportunities in mechanics, electrical and civil engineering and for starters, the Diploma in Engineering is free and really popular with employers.”

Wintec offers degree, diploma and certificate courses in Mechanical, Civil and Electrical Engineering.

Education – Schools Welcome Support for Mental Health Issues

Source: NZ Principals Federation
With mental health issues on the rise, the President of the New Zealand Principals’ Federation (NZPF), Perry Rush, has given full support to today’s announcement to roll out the successful Canterbury based Mana Ake programme across all primary and intermediate schools.
“Labour’s announcement today, to roll out mental health and wellbeing support services to every primary and intermediate-aged school child in New Zealand is the best news,” said Rush.
“We have been asking for more support for our young people with mental health issues for a long time, and couldn’t be more pleased with this announcement,” he said.
“Our Canterbury colleagues have found the Mana Ake programme especially effective in dealing with trauma and anxiety that students have experienced through the earthquakes and the terror attack. Basing mental health services for all students on Mana Ake makes a lot of sense,” he said.
“We want students suffering mental health issues to get professional support now, so they can learn strategies and skills and build resilience to cope successfully throughout their lives,” he said.
Rush also welcomed targeted mobile dental units for school age young people.
“As equity gaps have widened, the cost of dental care is out of range for many families and targeted mobile dental care to the schools is an excellent way to try and close that gap,” he said.

Election 2020 – Human Rights: Election Pledges for Palestine find strong support

Source: Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa

Last week the Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa sent out three election pledges to all candidates in all parties standing in the 2020 election.

We want candidates to sign up to the pledges which aim to turn New Zealanders’ strong support for Palestinian human rights into effective policies requiring Israel to follow United Nations resolutions and international law.

New Zealand votes the right way at the United Nations but takes no effective steps to back this up with practical policies. The outcome is 53 years of brutal military occupation of Palestinian land by Israel – the longest military occupation in modern history.

Meanwhile every day Israel steals more Palestinian land, bulldozes more Palestinian homes and murders anyone resisting its cruel occupation.

This must be stopped – and our pledges show the way forward.  

Initial responses have been very encouraging. For example most Green party candidates have got back to us already including all current Green MPs supporting all three pledges.  

As we say in the introduction to the pledges:

New Zealand has been here before. In the 1970s and 1980s New Zealanders gave strong support to the struggle of black South Africans against apartheid.

In 2020 the focus has shifted to Palestine and the racist, apartheid policies of the Israeli government towards Palestinians.

Pledges for Palestine

Dear election candidate,

The Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa is asking all candidates for the 2020 general election to pledge support for the human rights of all Palestinians based on international law and United Nations resolutions.

New Zealand has been here before. In the 1970s and 1980s New Zealanders gave strong support to the struggle of black South Africans against apartheid.

In 2020 the focus has shifted to Palestine and the racist, apartheid policies of the Israeli government towards Palestinians.

Nobel Peace prize winner and South African Archbishop, Desmond Tutu, says in relation to Israeli policies “we should name it apartheid and boycott”.

“I have witnessed the racially segregated roads and housing in the Holy Land that reminded me so much of the conditions we experienced in South Africa under apartheid,” says Tutu.

“We could not have achieved our democracy without the help of people around the world, who through… non-violent means, such as boycotts and disinvestment, encouraged their governments and other corporate actors to reverse decades-long support for the apartheid regime.”

Candidate pledges for Palestine

I support Palestinians’ rights to self-determination in an independent Palestinian state in historic Palestine and I support the application of international law and United Nations resolutions in achieving this goal.

In particular:

1.      I oppose the illegal annexation by Israel of large areas of the Occupied Palestinian Territories under the so called ‘Trump Plan’.

The Trump Plan is strictly between the US and Israel to bypass well established international law principles and United Nations resolutions for resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict.  It has been condemned by governments throughout the world with the New Zealand government expressing serious concern.  To achieve diplomatic relations with the United Arab Emirates, the Israeli government has recently delayed its annexation plan, but has explicitly not cancelled it.

2.      I support New Zealand relations with Israel being conditional on Israel’s compliance with its international law responsibilities, in particular the issues of occupation, human rights and the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

Until Israel complies, I will support the New Zealand government;

·         suspending its range of bilateral agreements with Israel

·         prohibiting the importation of products of illegal settlements made in the Occupied Palestinian Territories

·         instructing the Superannuation Fund to disinvest in any Israeli company complicit in settlement activities or land confiscation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories

·         ending arms and military equipment purchases from Israeli companies

3.      I oppose the use of Israeli military detention for Palestinian children and the use of “administrative detention” of Palestinians whereby they are incarcerated for prolonged periods without charge or trial.

Therefore I pledge to support the recommendations of Defence for Children Palestine and will support a government public statement, tabled in the New Zealand parliament, condemning Israel’s use of military courts and military detention for Palestinian children and for New Zealand to work with other countries at the United Nations to stop these inhumane practices.

Universities – New research seeks to transform data ecosystems to benefit indigenous peoples

Source: University of Waikato

A team of University of Waikato researchers have successfully secured $6m funding over four years in the latest Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) Endeavour Fund round.

Associate Professor Māui Hudson, Professor Tahu Kukutai and Associate Professor Te Taka Keegan are leading Tikanga in Technology: Indigenous approaches to transforming data ecosystems – a programme that aims to test Māori approaches to collective privacy, benefit and governance in a digital environment with a view to increase the benefits to Māori and reduce data harms.

The work will focus on how tikanga Māori (customary protocols) and Mātauranga Māori (Indigenous knowledge) inform the construction of digital identities and create a better understanding of relational responsibilities to data. The team of researchers will explore tools and processes that can help IT workers understand and incorporate Indigenous perspectives when working on data sets, not only in terms of storage and data processing but also in the creation of algorithms that have the potential for bias.

With research spanning a broad range of population topics from iwi demography and census methods to the impacts of colonisation on Indigenous health, Professor Tahu Kukutai (Ngāti Tiipa, Ngāti Kinohaku, Te Aupōuri) brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to Tikanga in Technology. Professor Kukutai co-edited the landmark book Indigenous data sovereignty: Toward an agenda, which is widely regarded as the seminal text on Indigenous data, while her new co-edited book Indigenous data sovereignty and policy, due for release in October, will offer a rich account of the potential for Indigenous data sovereignty to protect against the threats of data-related risks and harms. Professor Kukutai says it’s more critical now than ever to address the issue of Māori data sovereignty. “Tikanga in Technology includes projects co-designed with Māori communities, which allows us to help build flaxroots data capability and do research that meets their priorities and aspirations,” she says.

Winner of the Prime Minister’s Supreme Award for Excellence in Tertiary Teaching and an authority on Māori language technologies, Associate Professor Te Taka Keegan (Waikato-Maniapoto, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Whakaaue) is looking forward to bringing his experience and passion to research that will enable Indigenous perspectives to shape Artificial Intelligence for the benefit of Indigenous peoples. Associate Professor Keegan is a modern day tohunga (expert) in teaching, research, and innovation. He has worked with a number of projects including the Māori Niupepa collection, the Microsoft Keyboard, Windows and Office in Māori, Moodle in Māori, Google Translate, the Translator Toolkit, the Macroniser and SwiftKey.

A founding member of Te Mana Raraunga Māori Data Sovereignty Network and the Global Indigenous Data Alliance alongside Professor Kukutai, Associate Professor Māui Hudson (Whakatohea, Ngā Ruahine, Te Māhurehure) says recent innovations in digital technologies are a double-edged sword for Indigenous peoples. “Rapid advances in data linkage create vast potential for improved wellbeing as well as major risks for group exploitation so we need a profoundly different approach to individual data rights and protection – one that recognises collective identities,” he says. “Our project will look at the tools, processes and mechanisms we can offer the community of developers to enable ethical use and to generate more equitable outcomes for Māori.”

Associate Professor Hudson says it’s important to encourage developers to be more thoughtful about what they create and to support them in optimising data ecosystems that recognise and benefit Indigenous societies. The team’s research will move beyond current efforts to reduce bias in algorithms and explore what it means to ‘decolonise’ algorithms that adversely affect Māori communities. “Ongoing discussions about Māori data sovereignty are occurring beyond central government, but even though the private sector appears to be further behind, I think Indigenous data sovereignty is an area where Aotearoa New Zealand can lead the way,” he says. “We have a global advantage in Indigenous research and, with funding for projects like this, we can continue to optimise this edge to transform data ecosystems so that they are beneficial for Indigenous peoples.”

Situated at the interface of Mātauranga Māori and data science, this interdisciplinary programme has strong support from key data stakeholders across Te Ao Māori and Government. Associate Professor Hudson says the goal for Tikanga in Technology is to impact on data science projects in communities, at the University of Waikato, and beyond. “This funding success is a wonderful result for our team of researchers and for the evolving area of Indigenous data rights,” he says. The research team plans to make publicly available a range of tools, frameworks and principles that will promote ethical and equitable engagement, with data grounded in Te Ao Māori world-views.

The Tikanga in Technology: Indigenous approaches to transforming data ecosystems  programme is due to get underway in October 2020.