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Recognition and indigenizing official statistics: Reflections from Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia


In First World colonised nations such as Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia, population statistics form the evidentiary base for how Indigenous peoples are known and `managed' through state policy approaches. Yet, population statistics are not a neutral counting. Decisions of what and how to count reflect particular assumptions about Indigenous identity, ways of life and wellbeing. More often than not, the requirements and priorities of government take precedence over the informational needs and priorities of Indigenous communities. Whereas National Statistics Offices (NSOs) once rendered Indigenous peoples invisible in official statistics through non-recognition, the more pressing problem in the 21st century is that of misrecognition. In seeking to move beyond statistical misrecognition, we propose a set of guiding principles for bringing government reporting frameworks and Indigenous concepts of identity and wellbeing into closer proximity. We argue that a principled approach to collecting, disseminating and analysing Indigenous data not only avoids misrecognising Indigenous peoples but enhances the functionality of official statistics for Indigenous peoples and NSOs alike.