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Tribal digital identity project with Āhau

Current Project

2022 and ongoing

In partnership with Verb, Brainbox is carrying out legal research and design for Āhau, a platform developing a decentralised digital identity service for iwi and hapū. This project began in November 2022 and will continue through to October 2023. It is funded by the Cardano network's Project Catalyst.


Currently, digital identity services in Aotearoa New Zealand do not serve Māori communities well - for many Māori, their data is housed in centralised digital databases that do not recognise concepts like mana or tino rangatiratanga. After extensive community consultation, Āhau began developing a decentralised digital identity service that specifically caters to the needs of iwi and hapū.


In mid-2022, Āhau approached Brainbox and Verb to advise on the existing legislation and rules when it comes to building a new digital identity service, as well as suggest any adjustments that could be made to the rules or their intended products.


This project is particularly timely, given that the Department for Internal Affairs are in the process of making changes to their digital identity system. Brainbox and Verb are therefore also helping Āhau engage with DIA’s developing understanding and regulation of digital identity, in a way that avoids recolonisation and ensures the digital identity needs of Māori are being met. 


This project sits under the auspices of the Digital Legal Systems Lab, a public interest initiative orientated toward building trust in digital legal systems and digital regulatory design through open case studies and applied examples.

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