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Lightning Lab GovTech – a programme of Creative HQ – is about better serving citizens by creating a more trusted, inclusive and sustainable public sector. The three-month accelerator-style programme takes projects and staff from government agencies, who are tackling complex problems, and applies startup style innovation science to create fit-for-purpose solutions.The 10 teams in the 2019 programme showcased their solutions to a packed audience at Wellington’s Embassy Theatre. One of these solutions was ‘Ira’ – an indigenous digital identity prototype built on to the Āhau traditional knowledge platform. Sponsored into the GovTech accelerator by the Department of Internal Affairs, Ira aspires to enable Māori to have a digital solution enabling connections with whānau and the ability to store Maori identity attributes such as whakapapa information in a digital app. Ira project lead, Kaye Maree Dunn, highlights that identity documents such as a NZ birth certificate or passport do not reflect important Māori identity elements such as Iwi or hapū affiliations. She says digital identity technology opens up the opportunity for more depth in the recognition of a whole person beyond their name, date of birth and contact details.

At the Embassy Theatre showcase, Kaye Maree challenged the government to explore what it might take for Iwi/Māori organisations to be able to issue their own identity credentials that could be used in a range of contexts across the private and public sector.

Dunn says “Ira provides opportunities for Māori to be in control of their own personal information. While we are still in the early stages of development, we feel that our product could be a real gamechanger for Māori communities”.The second solution, Te Ia Kōrero is a platform designed to collect and amplify whānau voices in the social sector. Whānau complete a survey underpinned by Te Whare Tapa Whā and score their overall satisfaction with a service throughout the time they access it. This information is then combined with existing service provider and agency data to create an aggregated, de-identified dashboard that shows the impact social services have on whānau wellbeing. The platform was designed as part of the Manawa collaboration between two Māori service providers – Te Hau Āwhiowhio o Otangarei Trust and Te Tihi o Ruahine Whānau Ora Alliance – along with Social Investment Agency and with the support of the Westpac Innovation Fund.Te Hau Āwhiowhio CEO Martin Kaipo says the platform, as a result of the in-depth problem discovery undertaken in LightningLab, shows government agencies that they need to take heed of whānau voices and the messages they are trying to tell. “It has allowed us to set up a pathway for whānau to voice their messages around social wellness and what works for them. Connecting this information with the existing knowledge and data we have makes sure that agencies have the full picture,” says Kaipo.

Both teams credit Creative HQ for the high quality wraparound support, coaching and mentoring to help shape and enable sharing of their world-class ideas and creating a safe and inviting space for Māori entrepreneurs and change makers.

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