Every day we are all encouraged to work in siloes, separated from each other across organisations, sectors, geography, communities, cultures and disciplines. But the challenges and opportunities facing us all can not be solved by a divided community.

The Digital Aotearoa Collective (DAC for short) is a grassroots civil society initiative in New Zealand, created to bring people together who want to help people and solve problems through open collaboration. We intentionally step outside of our professional boxes to bring our skills, hopes, values and humanity together, so we can solve real world problems in a more open way.

Anyone can join and contribute, and everyone is welcome. We are purposefully working together as a distributed collective of people from all walks of life, supported to cluster around self-directed projects of mutual interest and shared goals. We’ve been inspired by the Gov Zero efforts in Taiwan.

We are currently in the earliest stage of establishment, and intend to take the first couple of months in 2022 to co-create our approach for Aotearoa New Zealand, to be suitable for our local context and in line with mātauranga Māori. Please join us to help shape the Digital Aotearoa Collective :)

Get involved

The first and easiest step is to subscribe to our mailing list, where we will be sending weekly updates on progress, projects and showcases.

Beyond that, there are many ways to get involved:

  • Join our general notifications mailing list to get updates and announcements
  • Join us on our slack to talk, share, learn, collaborate and to keep up with others
  • Starting in March 2022, there will be a community town hall every Friday at 1200 NZT to share news and showcase projects
  • Share your ideas for optimistic and pessimistic futures
  • You can participate in an existing project or add your own
  • Share an idea, problem or opportunity that others might also want to discuss, and perhaps form a project around
  • Join the “Community development” project to help grow this community around Aotearoa
  • Or, you can contribute funding or help apply for grants to support projects that need help

We also encourage professional organisations and NGOs to support your staff to participate in the Digital Aotearoa Collective on work time, and to engage or partner with projects where there are shared goals.

Community projects

Anyone can propose or add a project. We will add links and information in the coming weeks so start thinking about the tricky and wicked problems and opportunities you would love to tackle with new friends :)

About us

The Digital Aotearoa Collective was started by a diverse group of individuals from across Aotearoa New Zealand, with every intent to establish a self-governing, equitable and shared purpose community of doers, that get on with solving problems. The initial crew were Jo Allum, Pia Andrews, Jonah Duckles, Robert O’Brien, Arama Maitara, Hamish Fraser, Tom Barraclough, Ben Tairea, Brenda Wallace, Siobhan McCarthy, Regan Gilmour and more.

We are also going to have an Advisory Circle that all projects can go to for advice, and to help ensure our Community development project stays true. More on that soon!


We all rely upon, and are impacted by, the public sector every day. Whether directly, by interacting with the fragmented world of public services, or indirectly, through the decisions and systems perpetuated through government funding, policies, regulation, legislation or indeed, government public narratives. Even our future vision is usually framed as a political activity. Civil society has very little say, low influence and no real participation in these decisions or governance, with public engagement having largely become limited to a continuous slew of communications activities.

The NZ Government has a specific and binding responsibility to shared governance, both in its constitutional framework (particularly in Te Tiriti), and in the 2020 Public Service Act. We, the people, believe; shared, participatory governance will be a highly beneficial in the transformation of Aotearoa NZ, to a modern, equitable and engaged democracy and civil society.

However, most transformation efforts in our public sector to date have been limited to digitisation, digital services/apps, process automation or automated decision making. There is very little transformative, cultural or structural change and very little meaningful participation by the public. For all the “investment” in technology, we are seeing increasing adoption of automated, unexplainable and unaccountable systems, with a proliferation of inconsistent and often undignified services that create social exclusion, and little digital civic infrastructure we can rely upon. There is greater demand for change from communities than ever before, but no change strategy.

We intend to co-create optimistic futures we want to work towards, pessimistic futures we want to avoid, exemplars of what great public services and systems could look like, and some civic digital infrastructure to help democratise the opportunities of living in a digital age – all in alignment with the principles, protocols and practices of mātauranga Māori.

We believe this public innovation commons will help fuel more purposeful, high impact and innovative digital transformation for decades to come. We draw inspiration from the Gov Zero community in Taiwan, which created the civic digital and social infrastructure to tackle big problems in new ways, drawing on the values, skills, vision, hopes and fears of all the individuals involved, across all communities and sectors.


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