Our journey begins – a new dawn for data governance

5 Feb 2024

Takahia te haerenga! Nau mai te rā – mana hautū, mana raraunga.


Payments NZ has begun detailed exploration of how a Māori data governance approach can support our work to deliver world-class payments for Aotearoa New Zealand.

Payments NZ’s haerenga (journey) of discovery alongside Māori data science partners Nicholson Consulting has focused initially on a review of current practices in our API Centre, which is leading the development of open banking.

This mahi forms part of Tō Mātou Haerenga (Our Journey), our Payments NZ te ao Māori strategy. The strategy reflects our commitment to upholding Te Tiriti o Waitangi and ensuring the representation and rangatiratanga (self-determination) of Māori in our industry.

As a governance organisation, we are dedicated to promoting and incorporating data governance best practice. Safe, secure and responsible handling of data is fundamental to the payments system and to the development of open banking.

The review undertaken by Nicholson Consulting was based on the Māori Data Governance framework, which was originally co-designed by iwi-Māori and Crown agencies to enable a cohesive and mutually beneficial data system.

This robust and well-respected framework reflects best practice data governance in public and private sector settings with benefits for Māori and non-Māori alike.

“Working on this kaupapa with the Nicholson Consulting team over the past year has been foundational in our te ao Māori haerenga,” says Jane-Renee Retimana (Ngāti Whātua, Ngāpuhi, Te Rarawa), Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer at Payments NZ.

“This has been an exciting first step in understanding how we can weave open banking worldviews with a te ao Māori worldview, and then how we can practically apply that in our industry mahi.  Reassuringly, the Nicholson team found our open banking trust framework was aligned in key areas, and also identified how we can get on to closing gaps.

“This mahi also reaffirms our belief that a payments system that delivers for Māori delivers for everyone. We see the Māori Data Governance Model as a foundation for best practice that can underpin our broader work programme.”

The review from Nicholson Consulting shows that some key areas of the API Centre’s work are strongly aligned with the Māori Data Governance Model. In particular, the Centre’s focus on consent-driven actions and the protection of personal privacy are in line with key pou (pillars) of best practice.

In several areas the report also lays down wero (challenges) for the API Centre and identifies opportunities for improvement such as developing data handing guidelines to support the extension of Māori data governance best practice across our community of API Standards users.

"It was a privilege to partner with Payments NZ to support the beginning of their Māori data governance haerenga,” says Ernestynne Walsh (Ngāti Porou, Te Whānau-ā-Apanui), Māori Data Service Lead at Nicholson Consulting.

“When systems are governed in ways that are responsive to Māori aspirations and priorities, we get closer to a more equitable Aotearoa. In many ways, Payments NZ is already operating in alignment with good Māori data governance practices; however, this mahi also surfaced opportunities for Payments NZ to strengthen its ways of working.

“We look forward to the outcomes that will be achieved for communities in Aotearoa as these opportunities are explored with key rōpū and implemented over time."

In the coming months, Payments NZ will be looking closely at the recommendations we have received, and we will undertake further wānanga (forums) and consultation to determine our path forward. We welcome kōrero and dialogue with interested industry stakeholders about our haerenga so that others may follow a similar path.


Key questions and answers

How does a Māori data governance approach enhance established data governance?

Our exploration of Māori data governance concepts reflects change across the payments industry in Aotearoa. Māori data governance and data sovereignty are taking on greater importance and relevance in conversations around the work of our API Centre and our next-generation payments programme. It is a model that is shaped to Aotearoa.

Māori data governance is defined by Te Mana Raraunga (Māori Data Sovereignty Network) as referring to “the principles, structures, accountability mechanisms, legal instruments and policies through which Māori exercise control over Māori data”. These are based upon Māori data sovereignty principles which reflect “the inherent rights and interests that Māori have in relation to the collection, ownership and application of Māori data”.

Fundamental Māori data sovereignty principles include rangatiratanga (authority), whakapapa (relationships), whanaungatanga (obligations), kotahitanga (collective benefit), manaakitanga (reciprocity), and kaitiakitanga (guardianship).

The Māori Data Governance Model is increasingly regarded as overall best practice for data governance in Aotearoa. Some mutual advantages of this model, cited by Statistics New Zealand, include:

  • a cohesive, system wide model to ensure consistent, positive outcomes
  • a basis for benefiting from te ao Māori insights and innovation
  • improved system-wide policy development and service delivery
  • realising Māori data aspirations, ensuring meaningful and effective Iwi-Māori participation, and building trust and confidence in data and the data system
  • capability development through understanding and use of the model.

The principles underpinning Māori data governance could also align to issues and concerns which the Consumer Data Rights Bill is intended to address.  This underlines the opportunity for government and industry to collectively explore Māori data governance, and to build future best practice on these foundations.

Why did Payments NZ take on a data governance partner?

We are beginning a process of discovery in order to build a solid understanding of Māori data governance concepts, why they are important, and how they might be incorporated into the work that Payments NZ does.

We have engaged with Nicholson Consulting since early 2023 to get independent and expert external oversight. Nicholson Consulting has provided advice on Māori data governance strategy to corporate and public agencies within Aotearoa and has a specialist Māori data science team.

In our early hui (meetings) and kōrero with Nicholson Consulting we gained confidence its team  could provide best-practice advice, with a strong alignment of shared values.

What work was undertaken in their review?

We have focused our initial work with Nicholson Consulting on a review of the API Centre, and specifically our API Standards for account information and payments initiation. As these standards are closely related to user data and consent agreements, they represent an immediate area where Māori data governance and data sovereignty are highly relevant.

This work included a review of the relevant API specifications, security profiles, consultation feedback and terms and conditions, as well as interviews with Payments NZ staff, API Centre stakeholders including banks, fintechs, payments service providers and others, completed by Nicholson Consulting.

The pou that make up the Māori Data  Governance Model can be found here.

What is Payments NZ’s wider commitment to te ao Māori?

Our evolving work on Māori data governance and Māori data sovereignty is connected to our te ao Māori strategy, Tō Mātou Haerenga (Our Journey), which aims to ensure the representation and rangatiratanga of Māori in the payments network.

Tō Mātou Haerenga sets out a pathway to complement and enhance our work across the payments system and leadership of open banking, through engagement and genuine partnership with Māori.

It includes specific practical workstreams for Payments NZ to ensure that we support Māori aspirations and enable the financial wellbeing and equity of Māori, within the context of a world class payments system for Aotearoa.