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Data Summit'18 - it's a wrap!

1 Summit collage

Data warriors, policy peeps, and those from across government, NGOs, business, and academia who want to know more about data, gathered in Wellington to talk data ethics at Data Summit'18.

The event trended on Twitter, with #datasummit18 becoming the number one hashtag/key topic.

Led by local and global experts, more than 250 joined the conversation on how to balance the tensions between data innovation and protections, to ensure New Zealanders can have trust and confidence in the way data is used.

The key message? Data is about people.


Setting the scene

MC Pallas Hupé Cotter navigated participants and presenters through Day 1.

The scene for the two days was set by Statistics Minister Hon James Shaw, who also launched the public consultation on the review of the Statistics Act 1975, and Government Chief Data Steward Liz MacPherson.


New York Times best-selling Weapons of Math Destruction author Cathy O'Neil (@mathbabedotorg) told us that it's more about power than maths, and that we need to ask the question “How is this going to affect people?"

Cathy also explained how we all use algorithms in our everyday lives, and that they’re based on two things: our historical knowledge and what success looks like.

Read the NZ Herald’s interview with Cathy [28 September 2018].

Data sovereignty

First Nations Information Governance Centre’s Jonathan Dewar presented the First Nations perspective on data sovereignty and some of the challenges.

Professor Tahu Kukutai presented a New Zealand view, including opportunities and challenges in the context of big data and integrated data.


Associate Professor Amy Fletcher highlighted jobs that will be lost to automation in the next 45 years – surgeons, writers, truck drivers etc – but reminded the audience that an estimated 58 million new jobs will likely be created. And, as newspaper clippings from the 1920s attested, job losses to automation aren't new.

Associate Professor Colin Gavaghan and Professor James Maclaurin talked us through AI technologies, ethics and legal implications … how we can maximise benefits and minimise potential harm.

Panel discussion and close (Day 1)

'We can, but should we? | Ethical use of data' saw each of the panelists – Liz, Cathy, Jonathan, Privacy Commissioner John Edwards and Xero’s Sam Daish – respond to various participant questions.

In closing Day 1, Tasman kayaker Scott Donaldson astounded attendees with an in-depth account of his 62-day solo paddle from Australia to New Plymouth, supported by fantastic video footage and some surprising up close and personal photos.

Day 2 - Unconference "We, the pod, believe ..."

Mike Riversdale (aka ‘Miramar Mike’) shepherded participants through Day 2’s unconference, with discussions picking up on the themes from Day 1.

It provided an opportunity for participants from a range of organisations to contribute to frank and in-depth conversations, culminating in the statement “We, the pod, believe …”.

Read the summary [PDF 2.08MB] of the "We, the pod, believe ..." statements.

Please note: the summary has been reproduced from that provided by the participants of the Data Summit’18 unconference. Please excuse any errors or information that has landed in the wrong place.

The key takeaway from the unconference was for participants to keep these conversations alive within their organisations and professional groups.


Thanks to our sponsors

Image of sponsors' logos - MSD, MBIE and Xero

Contact us

If you’d like to ask a question or find out more about Data Summit’18, please email



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