Informed decision-making through the ethical use of data.

27–28 September 2018

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington
Brought to you by Stats NZ



Announcing Stats NZ's Data Summit

For the first time, Stats NZ will host a 2-day summit on informed decision-making through the ethical use of data.

We’ll discuss balancing the tensions between data innovation and protecting privacy – ensuring New Zealanders have trust and confidence in the way their data is used. We’ll learn about data sovereignty from an international and New Zealand perspective. And we'll take an in-depth look at privacy, ethics and algorithms.

The Speakers

Click their images to read bios

Cathy O'Neil

Author New York Times best seller

Weapons of Math Destruction

Hon James Shaw

Minister of Statistics

Liz MacPherson

Government Chief Data Steward

& Chief Executive, Stats NZ

Jonathan Dewar

Executive Director, First Nations Information Governance Centre

Tahu Kukutai

Professor, Te Rūnanga Tātari Tatauranga

& Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato

Amy Fletcher

Associate Professor, Department of Political Science and International Relations, University of Canterbury

Colin Gavaghan

Associate Professor, Faculty of Law,

Otago University

James Maclaurin

Professor, Department of Philosophy,

Otago University

Scott Donaldson

Record-breaking Tasman kayaker

John Edwards

Privacy Commissioner

Sam Daish

General Manager, Data Innovation – Xero

Mike Riversdale

Mike explains stuff,

connects people and gets things done

Pallas Hupé Cotter

Award-winning US television journalist, anchor, reporter, and producer

Our MCs

Day 1

Programme Thursday 27 September 2018


Mihi Whakatau


Pallas Hupé Cotter

Emmy award-winning US television journalist, anchor, reporter, and producer Pallas Hupé Cotter will navigate us through a day of keynote presentations that will take your interest in data to a whole new level.


Hon James Shaw, Minister of Statistics

What matters gets measured | Transparency and accountability

Using existing data to help model possible outcomes is an important part of modern government decision-making. Algorithms search for patterns in relevant data to help model potential outcomes that could occur given different circumstances. Minister Shaw will discuss the benefits and challenges of using data to make a positive difference to New Zealanders, the importance of transparency, and Government accountability.


Liz MacPherson, Government Chief Data Steward

We can, but should we? | Balancing the tensions between innovation and protection

It’s increasingly important for New Zealanders to understand how their personal data is used. As momentum and capability builds to do more with data, consistent processes and stewardship are needed across government to ensure the right balance is struck between greater data use and protecting public interest.


Cathy O’Neil, author New York Times bestseller Weapons of Math Destruction

Weapons of Math Destruction | Algorithms that are secret, important and harmful

Algorithms decide who gets a loan, who gets a job interview, who gets insurance, and much more – but they don't automatically make things fair. Cathy will uncover the dark secrets of big data, showing how ‘objective’ algorithms could in fact reinforce human bias. The mathematician, data scientist, and author will also talk about the agendas behind the formulas, and options for using data responsibly.


Morning Tea


Liz MacPherson, Government Chief Data Steward

Data sovereignty

Liz will set the scene around the government’s approach to data management, which considers the unique and different perspectives of key stakeholders, including iwi and Māori.

Dr Jonathan Dewar, Executive Director, First Nations Information Governance Centre

First Nations perspective

Jonathan will provide an international perspective on how FNIGC is balancing the collection and protection of information about First Nations people.

Professor Tahu Kukutai, Te Rūnanga Tātari Tatauranga & Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato

New Zealand perspective

Tahu will talk about Māori data sovereignty and the opportunities and challenges in the context of big data and integrated data in Aotearoa.




Associate Professor Amy Fletcher, Department of Political Science and International Relations, University of Canterbury

Artificial Intelligence, automation and employment in the US

New and fast-changing technologies – such as 3-D printing, self-driving cars, and machine learning – will bring significant new opportunities. Technological disruption to business-as-usual, and rapid political and economic change, is forcing organisations to adapt and necessitating innovative approaches to education and social support.

Amy will look at key issues arising in the US, starting with an overview of some key workplace developments, with a focus on AI-enabled technologies, and the changing nature of work. She’ll then consider the political challenges of the technological revolution, drawing on examples from threatened sectors, and those poised to thrive in the 21st century economy. The session finishes with a look at the broader ethics of AI and the possibility of using technology to revitalise American democracy.


Associate Professor Colin Gavaghan, Faculty of Law, Otago University

Professor James Maclaurin, Department of Philosophy, Otago University

AI technologies | Maximising benefits, minimising potential harm

AI is coming at us before we fully understand what it might mean. Established ways of doing things in areas like transport regulation, crime prevention and legal practice are being challenged by new technologies such as driverless cars, crime prediction software and 'AI lawyers'. AI technologies pose fascinating legal, practical and ethical challenges, which require interdisciplinary solutions.


Afternoon tea


Speakers: Liz MacPherson, Cathy O’Neil, Jonathan Dewar, John Edwards, Sam Daish

Panel discussion: We can, but should we? | Ethical use of data

The panel will give their views – both the New Zealand and international perspectives – and respond to your questions on how we balance the mix of creating better outcomes for people while ensuring we maintain the trust and confidence they have in us managing their data.


Pallas Hupé Cotter

Wrap up

Summarising key themes and setting the scene for tomorrow’s open space sessions.


Scott Donaldson, record-breaking Tasman kayaker

Blood, sweat and data | Double ditch success

Data played a critical part in Scott Donaldson’s incredible journey, as the first solo kayaker to successfully cross the Tasman Sea – the ‘double ditch’.

Scott will share his story of 84-days of straight paddling across the Tasman … and what it was like arriving in New Plymouth to fireworks and cheers from supporters gathered on Ngamotu Beach.


Close of Day 1

Day 2

Programme Friday 28 September 2018


Registration with coffee and tea


Mike Riversdale


With a knack for bringing techies and non-techies together to break down boundaries to increase understanding, self-confessed internet evangelist Mike Riversdale (aka Miramar Mike) will lead our ‘unconference’ adventure.

An ‘unconference’ format will provide the opportunity for in-depth group discussions based on emerging themes from Day 1. The format will create space for peer-to-peer learning, collaboration and creativity.


Discussion session


Morning tea


Discussion session




Indicators Aotearoa NZ

Data is required to make the best decisions by everyone in New Zealand. We have moved beyond using GDP as the leading indicator for measuring the progress of society.

Stats NZ will outline the work it is doing to provide a comprehensive set of measures. Stats NZ will discuss how these will provide a framework for the use of data to make decisions and highlight gaps in the data available to do this.


Close of Day 2

Brought to you by

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The venue

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Before becoming an MP, James Shaw had a successful career in management consulting, primarily in London, working with large, multinational companies across Europe and around the world, helping them develop more sustainable business practices.

While studying for a Master’s degree in sustainable development and business leadership, James realised the private sector alone wasn’t able to affect change at the speed and scale necessary to meet the great challenges of our time.

James’ diverse business experience and expertise, from working for multinational corporates through to local start-ups, social enterprises and community organisations, enables him to lead the Green Party, the Government and New Zealanders towards a high-tech post-carbon economy and society.

Jonathan Dewar, PhD, is the Executive Director at the First Nations Information Governance Centre. He has been recognized as a leader in healing and reconciliation and Indigenous health and wellbeing education, policy, and research and has published extensively on these subjects, with a specialization in the role of the arts in healing and reconciliation. Jonathan is of mixed heritage, descended from Huron-Wendat, French-, and Scottish-Canadian grandparents, with an academic background in Indigenous Studies. A former Director of Research at the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, he also holds an appointment as Adjunct Research Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton University.

John Edwards was appointed to the position of Privacy Commissioner of New Zealand in February 2014 after a more than 20 year career practicing law. He has degrees in law (LLB) and public policy (MPP) from Victoria University of Wellington and has advised and represented a wide range of clients from the public and private sector. He chaired the New Zealand Law Society Privacy and Human Rights Committee, and was Contributing Editor of Brookers Human Rights Law and Practice, and has published widely on human rights and privacy matters. In addition to a practice specialty in the field of information and privacy law, he held warrants as a district inspector for mental health, and as district inspector for intellectual disability services and has provided legal services to the Kingdom of Tonga.

In October 2014 John was elected as Chair of the Executive Committee of the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners and completed his 3 year term in October 2017.

Photo by NZ Listener

Pallas Hupé Cotter is an Emmy award-winning former TV news reporter and anchor in the USA. Now, she’s a professional speaker, broadcaster, writer and mentor. Pallas has lent her talents to a few Open Data projects: recording Google Hangout interviews with some of the world's top Open Data experts, facilitating an Open Data Champions Workshop as well as emceeing both the Open Data Showcase at Parliament in 2016 and this year's Open Data, Open Potential event. Pallas is also the founder of a personal leadership development and strategic messaging consultancy, called POP.

Liz MacPherson is the Government Statistician and Chief Executive of Stats NZ, New Zealand’s data and statistics agency. Liz was appointed in August 2013 and is proud to be the first woman to hold the position.

Recently, Liz also took on the newly created role of Government Chief Data Steward, supporting government to realise the potential of data to improve wellbeing, while maintaining and building trust in its use. In this role she also leads New Zealand’s open data programme.

Liz is a highly experienced, dedicated public servant. In a career spanning almost 30 years, she has worked on everything from policy, strategy, and operational delivery, to regulation, research, and corporate governance.

During that time, Liz has worked in a variety of government agencies, including the Department of Labour, and the Ministry of Education. Before joining Stats NZ, she spent ten years serving on the Executive Leadership Team of the Ministry of Economic Development (MED) and subsequently the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

The depth and breadth of Liz’s experience in resolving complex policy and operational problems, and in leading strategic change initiatives, brings a new and invaluable perspective to the role of Government Statistician.

Liz believes passionately in the power of people and ideas to make a difference to New Zealand. And at Stats NZ, she relishes the opportunity to “unleash the power of data to change lives.” 

Often working in partnership with other agencies, Liz is committed to empowering decision-makers at all levels with the information they need and the capability to use it.

Liz has a BA in Geography and English and a First Class Master of Arts in English.

Mike Riversdale explains stuff, connects people and gets things done.

He is also an experienced and warm MC, relaxed hackathon facilitator, smooth podcast host, and passionate open government advocate. He's likely to wear some funky shoes and one of his many slightly strange t-shirts.

Tahu Kukutai (Ngāti Tiipa, Ngāti Kinohaku, Te Aupōuri) is Professor of Demography at the National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis, University of Waikato. Tahu specialises in Māori and indigenous demographic research and has written extensively on issues of Māori population change, Māori identity and official statistics. She has undertaken research with and for numerous hapū, iwi, Māori NGOs, and government agencies. Tahu is a founding member of the Māori Data Sovereignty Network Te Mana Raraunga and is Vice President of the Population Association of New Zealand. She is co-editor (with John Taylor) of Indigenous Data Sovereignty: Toward an Agenda (free download). Tahu has degrees in History, Demography and Sociology from the University of Waikato and Stanford University. She was previously a journalist.

Cathy O’Neil is the author of the New York Times bestselling Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy, which was also a semifinalist for the National Book Award.

She earned a Ph.D. in math from Harvard, was a postdoctoral fellow in the MIT math department, and a professor at Barnard College where she published a number of research papers in arithmetic algebraic geometry. She then switched over to the private sector, working as a quantitative analyst for the hedge fund D.E. Shaw in the middle of the credit crisis, and then for RiskMetrics, a risk software company that assesses risk for the holdings of hedge funds and banks. She left finance in 2011 and started working as a data scientist in the New York start-up scene, building models that predicted people’s purchases and clicks.

Cathy wrote Doing Data Science in 2013 and launched the Lede Program in Data Journalism at Columbia in 2014. She is a columnist for Bloomberg View.

Sam Daish currently leads the data innovation team in Xero. This role combines machine learning and other data science techniques to create value for small business and the ecosystem, and the data governance framework to ensure data activities align with Xero's mission, values and commercial objectives.

Prior to this Sam has led the analytics and information function at Kiwibank and had roles in the UK for private equity and financial services. Sam's background is rather non-traditional for this space, coming from human resources and strategy before moving into roles focused on creating value from technology and data. This gives him a diverse base of experience and perspectives that is a useful addition to teams with deep technical expertise and experience. And he backs all this up with a sound knowledge of classical and comparative mythology and ancient Greek and Roman history.