top of page

You’re hired: Māori apprentice Rickii-Lee Parekura to empower her iwi with new data skills

Riria Dalton-Reedy, Te Rito Journalism cadet

Māori data apprentice Rickii-Lee Parekura is coming home to her iwi after 16 years of living and working overseas to help lift the capacity and capability of her tribe.

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Parekura (Te Whānau-a-Apanui, Ngāti Tamaterā), is one of eight students in He Ara Pūkeko, an apprenticeship scheme launched last week, aiming to build Māori data analysts.

The nine-month programme is run by Te Kāhui Raraunga (TKR), and the aim is to enhance the social, cultural, environmental, and economic wellbeing of Māori; enabling Māori to gather information and data to use for themselves.

“I’m extremely grateful to be given this opportunity from Te Kāhui Raraunga and my iwi,” Parekura says.

She has always had an interest in statistics.

Parekura moved from Australia to Waiorore, in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, and is ready to make use of her new skills for her iwi.

TKR spokeswoman Kateriina Selwyn (Te Arawa) says for Māori, census data is more than a mere population count.

“It serves as the backbone for national metrics that are critical for resource allocation in areas such as schools and healthcare and infrastructure”.

Selwyn says data also has constitutional significance, as it directly influences the number of Māori electoral seats.

“It shapes our national identity”.

Parekura says the success of the 2023 Iwi-Led Census sparked her interest in data collection.

“I was inspired by [the] significant increase in our roll-out for the [Census],

“I think [my iwi had a] 92 per cent [increase] of people that registered and [did] the census last year, which is dramatic compared to the last one”.

The initiative saw Te Tai Rāwhiti, Te Tai Tokerau and Te Whānau-ā-Apanui lead the collection of Census information in their regions after a low turnout in 2018.

“It placed iwi at the forefront of community-based data collection methods,” Selwyn says.

The approach proved to be useful after Cyclone Gabrielle where the Census deadline was extended in impacted areas.

“We saw some massive successes in the work that they did both in the engagement with whānau in [affected] communities,

“Everything was tailored to the communities that they were serving”.

Parekura has a particular interest in furthering education through her mahi.

“We have a lot of very talented rangatahi down home and I want to be able to [collect] data,

“Just to assist [my iwi in] understanding the importance of data collection to continue advancing, I suppose in the modern world”.

During the programme, apprentices will work with organisations including Statistics NZ and the Ministry of Education to get wider experience.

TKR chair Rahui Papa, says He Ara Pūkeko is the first programme of its kind in Aotearoa.

“Apprentices, who are endorsed by their iwi, link back to their iwi throughout the programme,

“They conclude their journey by producing a piece of research for and belonging to their iwi, ensuring skills aren’t just proficient but meaningful and relevant”.

Data from the 2023 Census will be available from May 29.

bottom of page