World-first data storage infrastructure solution built by Iwi Māori, for Iwi Māori

Media release: “Te Kāhui Raraunga Charitable Trust (TKR) is on a mission to provide a data storage solution like no other in the pursuit of mana motuhake when it comes to data and the digital future. The concept of the network’s purpose is encapsulated in its name, Te Pā Tūwatawata.

And after six months of testing, the pilot phase has proven so successful, TKR expects Te Pā Tūwatawata to go live in early 2025.

The kaupapa involves the development of a distributed storage network to enable iwi, hapū and whānau Māori to collect, store, protect, access and control their own data.

Unlike other data storage solutions here and around the world, the servers used to connect the network will be based at the heart of where the data comes from – on marae, inside Māori organisations, or at other relevant iwi locations.

Three locations have been in the testing phase since late 2023, with the final network set to open with eight locations around the motu.

TKR Chairman, Rāhui Papa says the project is not only a world-first, but significantly embraces core concepts like kotahitanga – through sharing and scaling; and rangatiratanga – by giving iwi and hapū the power to control and make decisions over their own data.

“Iwi Māori Data sovereignty is at the heart of everything we do at TKR. As the world becomes more and more digital, we must adapt and be prepared to create our own infrastructure and empower our people with the know-how and skills to use it,” says Mr Papa.

Kirikowhai Mikaere, Lead Technician for the Data ILG and Te Kāhui Raraunga says traditionally, data centres are located in big warehouses, completely isolated from the source of the data and the people and whenua who have connection to it.

“With this kaupapa, we’re housing the data where it belongs, under the safe protection of the people that it means the most to. Additionally, with Te Pā Tūwatawata being located on-shore and owned by us, it meets the principles of Iwi Māori Data Sovereignty at the highest levels,” says Ms Mikaere…(More)”.