A new partnership between Stats NZ and Wairoa post-settlement trust Tātau Tātau will help make data more accessible for whānau Māori.
The relationship agreement was signed today after a mihi whakatau welcoming Tātau Tātau representatives and kaumātua of Wairoa in Wellington.
The agreement had been a work in progress for a long time, but that process was sped up by Cyclone Gabrielle.
Tātau Tātau o Te Wairoa Trust chair Leon Symes said during Cyclone Gabrielle the trust was able to access data through the National Emergency Management Agency.
He hoped the agreement with Stats NZ would keep that door open.
"A lot of the information we were trying to get... sits in multiple sources, so for this we're seeing ourselves as a conduit able to pull those sources together to collectivise them all under one umbrella, [while] making sure that we protect the whānau's right to privacy."
Stats NZ deputy chief executive Māori Partnerships and Strategy, Tia Warbrick, said the partnership would help Stats NZ and Tātau Tātau understand how to wrap support and resources around the people of the Wairoa region and better serve their data and information needs.
"What we know so far through the conversations that we've had with [Tātau Tātau] today is that they really want data that tells them about their strategic priorities such as housing, their social wellbeing, environment, to support the decisions they make around how they lean into those kinds of kaupapa to support their people."
Work had already begun to make the data clearer and more digestible for whānau, Warbrick said.
It would also be important to look after the data in accordance with tikanga Māori in order to bridge the trust gap between whānau and the government, Symes said.
"We can explain to whānau why we're doing this, because a lot of the time whānau don't want to give information to particularly government agencies because there's a big mistrust.
"We are trying to be that conduit, that connection, if we can get the whānau's trust and we can make sure that it's protected so they're not identifiable and it's not going to affect them in any way, the police are not going to turn up to come arrest them or do anything like that."
The data would be used to better assess the cost of building repairs and to quantify what was still needed in Wairoa, Symes said.
Warbrick said partnerships like this would help boost Māori participation in areas such as the census.
"These kinds of relationships will really imbed the opportunity to have more conversations in communities and get people more engaged. And we know that iwi are at the forefront of supporting their whānau and communities in their regions."
Stats NZ would like to see partnerships like this expanded to other iwi, she said.