Statistics NZ forms Data Ethics Advisory Group

Thu 22 Aug 2019

In July 2019, Statistics New Zealand announced the launch of a new Data Ethics Advisory Group. Information on this and other recent data policy work is collated below.

The Data Ethics Advisory Group has been established to bring perspectives and expertise from outside government on the use of data. According to the Statistics NZ Blog:

"This independent group will meet to help government agencies use data more effectively, while ensuring that New Zealanders can have trust and confidence in the way their data is collected and used. It will also provide expert impartial advice on trends, issues, areas of concern, and areas for innovation it becomes aware of."

The seven members of the Group were appointed after an expression of interest process. The members include:

  • Chair: Professor Juliet Gerrard – Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Auckland and the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor
  • Dr Amohia Boulton – Director of Whakaue Research Services, Adjunct Professor Faculty of Health and Environmental Services at Auckland University of Technology, and Visiting Senior Research Fellow at Victoria University of Wellington
  • Dr Ang Jury – Chief Executive, Women’s Refuge
  • Dr Will Koning – Chief Data Officer, Kantar New Zealand
  • Kate O’Connor – Executive Manager, AUT Ethics Committee
  • Dr Nessa Lynch – Associate Professor of Law, Victoria University of Wellington
  • Professor Colin Simpson – Associate Dean of Research and Innovation, Victoria University of Wellington.

One more person will be appointed to Group to represent the Te Ao Māori Co-Design Group that supports the Māori Data Governance work.

The Data Ethics Advisory Group was formed in response to a recommendation to establish a group of independent experts to advise and guide agencies on the use of public data. The recommendation was one of several recommendations in the 2018 Statistics NZ report summarising findings from a cross-government review of how government uses algorithms. 

See the Data Ethics Advisory Group on the Statistics NZ website for more information including the terms of membership and terms of reference.

The Group was launched by the Government Chief Data Steward Liz MacPherson, former Chief Executive of Statistics NZ. Liz MacPherson recently resigned from her role as Chief Executive.

Related news

Statistics NZ has launched Ngā Tūtohu Aotearoa – Indicators Aotearoa New Zealand, which provides information to measure more than 100 wellbeing indicators. These include indicators on domestic violence and (still to be developed) harm against children. The indicators are designed to underpin government frameworks including The Treasury’s Living Standards Framework and Dashboard, cross-government initiatives and Aotearoa New Zealand’s international reporting requirements related to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Work began last year to develop the indicators including a public consultation process.

The Social Investment Agency (SIA) has been working with the sector to develop a Data Protection and Use Policy. The purpose is to provide guidance for how personal information can and can't be used in the social sector. It is anticipated that the final Policy will be presented to Cabinet later this year along with recommendations on implementing the policy. The SIA is also developing a new approach to analyse the impact of social services on the wellbeing of New Zealanders.

The Ministry for Social Development has designed a new Privacy, Human Rights and Ethics framework (PHRaE). 

For background information about the SIA and related research, see the 'Related articles' below.

Related commentary, reports and research

See the following articles and reports for more discussion and research on the use of public data:

Surveys, social licence and the Integrated Data InfrastructureAotearoa New Zealand Social Work (Gulliver, Jonas, Fanslow, McIntosh & Waayer, 2018)

Privacy, Data and Technology: Human Rights Challenges in the Digital Age (Human Rights Commission, 2018)

How fair is an algorithm? A comment on the algorithm assessment report, Opinion: Emily Keddell, Re-Imagining Social Work in Aotearoa New Zealand Blog, 07.12.2018

Flipping our algorithmic assumptions,, 19.11.2018

How Government algorithms are judging you, Newsroom, 19.11.2018

Indigenous health data and the path to healing, The Lancet (Walker, Lovett, Kukutai, Jones, and Henry, 2017)

Indigenous Data Sovereignty: Toward an Agenda (Kukutai and Taylor, 2016) - see also Te Mana Raraunga, the Māori Data Sovereignty Network

Related media


Digital experts to provide advice on technological change, Beehive Press Release, 28.02.2020

Stats NZ convenes Data Ethics Advisory Group, Press Release: Statistics New Zealand, 30.07.2019

Privacy Good Research Fund 2019 invites applications, Voxy, 16.07.2019

Kei te pēhea tātou? Tracking New Zealand’s wellbeing and sustainable development, Press Release: Statistics New Zealand, 27.06.2019

Human Rights Commission (HRC) and Social Investment Agency (SIA) Awarded DVFREE tick, DVFREE News (Shine), 20.06.2019

Image: TeroVesalainen from Pixabay

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