Introducing The Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation

By Emma MacDonald
Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation

In an era where data-driven technologies are rapidly transforming societies, it is crucial to keep ethical considerations at the forefront of any discussion.

Historically, Aotearoa New Zealand has been seen as socially progressive, from women’s suffrage to personhood for our rivers. Technology can’t be an exception to this. 

The Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI) has been established to navigate the complex intersection of information, fairness and technological progress.

Launched in late 2023, CDEI is all about using data responsibly, exploring the social impacts of AI and data-driven technology, and maximising the potential of data in a fair and ethical way.   It is putting people first, understanding that in the 21st Century, our data can not be seen as something separate from the human.

Housed and funded by Stats NZ, CDEI was set up to help government agencies achieve a secure, trusted data environment. While the focus is on government, the frameworks and products can be used by anyone. 

CDEI’s role is to support agencies with their data and to promote public awareness on data ethics. With an ever-growing network, CDEI is supported by and draws on the knowledge and expertise of a wide range of people from academics, businesses large and small, NGOs, Māori, Pasifika, rainbow communities, and of course the Public Sector.

As there is further development of what the CDEI should do, our small team continues to be actively engaged with our network and key stakeholders. This includes continuing to work with our network to undertake human-centred approaches to creating sustainable solutions and optimal experiences based on needs. 

At the CDEI, we are so pleased that TINZ has been involved with us since the start of this journey.

Transparency is an important part of any discussion on ethics. Any ethics guidance will touch on transparency, for instance, the Data Protection User Policy (DPUP) focuses on transparency and choice. In DPUP, it outlines the importance of helping people understand why and how their personal information is collected and how it is being used. It gives advice on how you can provide information and lets people know they have the right to access it and request changes.

We are currently rolling out data ethics games to help people understand ethical frameworks like Ngā Tikanga Paihere better. Data, ethics and innovation are obvious fields where game play can increase our collective literacy, and raise awareness on bad practice. The games have triggered meaningful discussions and a lot of laughter. 

If anyone is interested in playing these games, we are more than happy to facilitate that! Later this year, we’ll roll out practical case studies to help data practitioners, policymakers, and data scientists navigate the inevitable grey areas.

A critical part of the role we play is to amplify the voices of subpopulations and advocate for an equitable and responsible innovation ecosystem. If we are to build confidence and trust, it’s vital we hear from a diverse group of people to understand the different points of view. 

We welcome you to be part of our network and the conversation! Don’t hesitate to contact us at

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