Tribal identity systems, in place for millennia, are not yet recognised by states/institutions creating national DIDs, excluding indigenous population’s pre-colonial norms, rules, rights & sovereignty
Using AtalaPrism SDK, integrate DID wallet features in Āhau, the tribal identity DApp made for, by, with Maori, indigenous people of Aotearoa (New Zealand) to enable issuance of verifiable credentials
This is the total amount allocated to Tribal DIDs=Indigenous Sovereignty
In Aotearoa (New Zealand) the state has drafted a new Digital Identity Services Trust Bill that will define the rules for how institutions and organisations in Aotearoa will recognise and trust someone's digital identity. It intends to revolutionise how Banks, Universities, Health care providers, Schools, Passport issuers and other public services work.
The draft Bill states that the “Rules will incorporate Te Ao Māori perspectives of identity” as part of its legislative purpose. To what extent this happens is still being determined. Our capability, as Maori, to develop our own systems of identity to be interoperable with other institutional identity systems will be a contributing factor.
This project proposes we develop a Tribal DID, in alignment with these draft Identity management standards to empower Maori to have their Tribal Identity practises recognised by organisations and institutions and their rights to sovereign identity, as Maori, and its legitimacy, enshrined.
Why its (very) important
This is an exciting time for our Maori communities. The Government (of the last 200+ years) has the opportunity and responsibility to organise itself to operate alongside existing Tribal governance systems, practices and authority. The work Āhau, the Indigenous Identity DApp, has undertaken over the last 4 years is a significant step towards ensuring this opportunity is realised.
Āhau is well on the way to enabling its communities to be recognised issuers of verifiable identity credentials. Enabling this important technological advancement to take place will speed along the future which delivers Maori the self-determination and self-governance we have the right to.
Āhau is a scuttlebutt based dapp used by tribal communities to identify and register community members, preserve cultural heritage and histories, and grow individual and collective identity. Our next step is to use AtalaPrism’s SDK to integrate digital identity wallet features in the Āhau DApp.
Our goal is to provide tribal communities with the ability to issue verifiable credentials to their tribal members. Tribal members will then be able to present these credentials to third parties to use as a reliable and trusted form of identity verification.
Māori (indigenous people of New Zealand) are a collectivist society connected by tribal groupings called Whanau (immediate family), Hapu (extended family groups), and Iwi (‘tribes’ of broader, related whanau). In the early years of our colonisation, during the British invasion of Aotearoa, the English sought to establish a treaty agreement known as Te Tiriti o Waitangi or The Treaty of Waitangi between The British Crown and the tribal chiefs of Aotearoa.
Many chiefs of Aotearoa, agreed to peace and signed Te Titiri in good faith so that the Crown would cease unlawful attacks, confiscation of Māori land, and enforce greater control over English settlers. Te Tiriti also provided for the right to Rangatiratanga or self-determination and self-governance for Maori.
However, the British did not honour Te Tiriti, and today Aotearoa, now named New Zealand (by the New Zealand Company which made a business of colonising Aotearoa) is now governed by a Government setup by the English Crown. Less than 5% of the land remains in Māori hands.
While Aotearoa bears this dark history, the Crown has established a process for reconciliation and apologies. As Māori we are now progressively imbuing our cultural systems (with varying degrees of friction and speed) into legislation, courts, education, health and many other parts of society.
Identity is foundational for Māori communities in identifying tribal members and how we connect with each other. Māori identity is also foundational to the future of our society as a whole. Our people being able to prove who they are, via a means which is aligned culturally to them, is a crucial element of all future interactions aiming to restore trust; to instantiate indigenous human rights; and, with integrity, live up to the egalitarian image our country has acquired globally.
Providing a solution for tribal communities to reaffirm their cultural systems of identity and integrate this with the Digital Identity Services Trust Framework is critical to the future we want to create. It will not only acknowledge Māori’s right to establish and confirm their identity, it will also provide an opportunity for institutional models of identity to expand their understanding and systems of identity to be more inclusive of community issued credentials.
This advancement can and (we hope) will, have ripples across the world. Community issued credentials are applicable to many people, in many contexts and countries, not least to those who are part of this Project Catalyst community.
Use case one: Trusted by Tribes
Working with a number of related Māori communities we will design the process for issuing, presenting and verifying, Verifiable Credentials (VC’s) in alignment with tribal identity processes.
These VC’s will be provided from one tribe and will be accepted by another tribes as a relying party
Use case two: Trusted by Government
After successfully designing and understanding the tribal processes for verifying identity and issuing VC’s, we will work with the Government rules development team to facilitate the design of the process of accepting tribal VC’s as a verified form of identity.
Use case three: Trusted by Organisations
After designing the process so that the Government can recognise tribal communities as trusted sources of identity, and enabling Āhau to be recognised as a DID infrastructure provider we’ll then work with a number of organisations to facilitate the design of the process for them accepting VC’s through Āhau as a recognised form of Identity verification.
The team from digital legal systems labs will lead the testing of the rules design process against the digital identity standards and rules. This will be developed in a way that not only helps Āhau to identify areas of compliance but also is a tool that other identity systems can use to support the development of identity systems in Aotearoa.
AtalaPrism in Āhau
We will have a developer participate in the AtalaPrism Pioneer Programme to get early access to the SDK. Our team will then develop the frontend and backend for dapp integration with the SDK
With the technical infrastructure in place we will roll out a number of tests with the different use cases mentioned above.
Upon successful delivery of the pilots we will initiate an application wide rollout to deliver features to all communities and users.
This proposal supports the Challenge to develop “a thriving ecosystem of different DApps, products and integrations for the community to use that increasingly become the better alternatives over current centralized providers” in two important ways.
First, most importantly, Tribal DIDs are not only a ‘better alternative’, they are a human right.
Integrating an authentic indigenous identity platform for people who maintain ancient polycentric governance practices with Cardano products will be significant.
Delivering Mori Tribes with Sovereign Identity which is interoperable with existing centralised systems provides a model for, and can develop into, far more advanced solutions for many colonised people.
Āhau is mainly used by indigenous communities in Aotearoa but is also being explored in other parts of the world. This solution, built on top of Cardano will enable a new audience, critical to the establishment of true diversity in its ecosystem, to connect with the potential and opportunities Cardano offers.
Second, the intention of developing this product, using draft legislation being proposed by a state is an important use case for Cardano.
Presenting a working DApp to a Government which meets all the requirements that that Government is proposing in its draft bill will enhance Cardano’s brand and reputation. Demonstrating without doubt that Cardano’s intention really is “to make the world better for all”.
We’ve already demonstrated we do what we say we’ll do, and have achieved significant success to date with Āhau.
We look forward to taking next steps towards that better world as part of the Project Catalyst DApps and Integrations Challenge cohort.
AtalaPrism SDK is still in it early phases so its hard to tell how stable it is, and how it easily it will intergrate to with Āhau. To mitigate this risk we will be participating in the pioneer programme working directly with the AtalaPrism team to solve technical challenges we face. We will also continue to look for alternative DID stacks as part of our technical research
The project has three core contributing teams. This includes the design team, the development team, the legal team. The coordination and commuinciation between these teams needs to be clear to ensure that we are all working towards the same clear objectives. For this reason we have an experienced project manager as a part of the team to ensure that the coordination and communication between teams is clear with regular checkins and updates.
With every digital project its important not to let the scope of the project grow outside of the initial project objectives. Our product owner will be responsible for ensuring that the design, development and legal teams stay within the requirements of the project in an agile manner with small functional slices being developed and delivered throughout the project.
This projects aims to demonstrate how traditional cultural identity systems meet Government and industry standards and can be interoperable with newly proposed systems. One risk around this project is that the cultural practises of identity management and recognition do not align with the Government and business standards.
This risk will be mitigated by the legal team who’ll identify areas of noncompliance and provide recommendations for how the cultural systems may be changed to comply. The project also aims to provide recommendations that communicate to the Government digital identity standards design team how the proposed standards themselves may be changed to align with cultural systems, in accordance with the goals of the legislation and rights of indigenous people.
Phase one: Discovery and Design
3 months Oct – Dec
Phase two: Development
3 months Jan – Mar
Phase three: Piloting
3 months Apr – Jun
Phase four: Deployment
3 months Jul – Sept
Āhau NZ Ltd is a Māori owned and operated business in Aotearoa (New Zealand) building solutions by our people, with our people and for our people. Our team of developers have been working together on our distributed application for three years.
The team also includes project managers responsible for coordinating project partners and team ensuring the project remains on track in alignment with the budget and timeframes; and, a pool of contract user research, design, testing experts and community educators who work closely with our communities to ensure the product is aligned with tribal custom, practice and authority.
The team is led by:
Ben is Kaiwhakahaere/CEO of Āhau. He is also the Deputy Chair on the Executive Council of Digital Identity New Zealand. Ben is experienced with the product and community development required to deliver on the project and the Digital Identity requirements and environment for which this solution will need to land to be a recognised identity solution in Aotearoa (New Zealand).
He is Project Lead and Product Owner responsible for the overall development and UX/UI design along with the implementation of the product by the community and industry partners.
Lead Developer for Āhau, and Technical Lead for this project Mix has been programming for 10+ years, with 6+ of those working on distributed systems and secure scuttlebutt. He is responsible for the technical design, development and integration with the existing application. Mix will lead the development team.
Rules-as-code developer for Digital Legal Systems Labs. Previous experience working in both Central and Local Government, researcher involved in the Legislation as Code report, funded by the New Zealand Law Foundation. Owner of Software development company Verb (20 years). Hamish is responsible for the analysis and design of the rules-as-code components, documenting the compliance challenges and communicating those to enable product development.
Co-founder and principal consultant at Brainbox, Tom works at the intersection of law, public policy and digital technologies. He has led multiple public interest research projects including the Legislation as Code project, funded by the New Zealand Law Foundation, and has co-founded the Digital Legal Systems Lab. Responsible for the compliance and integration of Government identity standards and the development of compliance tools to support identity processes. This role will also work with the Project Lead and Product Owner to develop recommendations and advocate for any required changes to standards.
Yes, identity is just the first step in self-determination/self-governance for Māori and other indigenous communities.
We would like to integrate with DAO governance and finance systems in the future and think that the Cardano ecosystem could provide the tools, resourcing and systems to support these future objectives.
Phase one: Discovery and Design
Phase two: Development
Phase three: Piloting
Phase four: Deployment
This is an entirely new project.
16 - Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
16.10 - Ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements
16.3 - Promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all
16.6 - Develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels
Deputy Chair, Executive Council of Digital Identity New Zealand, Co-founders of Āhau –Tribal Identity DApp & Digital Legal Systems Lab. Distributed system/secure scuttlebutt & Regs-as-code development expertise, Intergenerational relations with Maori across Aotearoa, New Zealand