Open Data 101

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From what Open Data is, to understanding how to use it, this guide is a quick reference for everything you need to know about New Zealand’s Open Data initiative.


Do you know how much of your tax money is spent on government contracts? Interested in determining the fuel consumption of a car you want to purchase? Would you like to know how many permanent resident visa applications were received in each region?

Open Data is a practice that makes human and machine-readable data freely available, easy to access, and most importantly, simple to reuse.

Technology has provided the capability to distribute large amounts of data and information through many different platforms on a vast array of subjects. The New Zealand Government believes it is important to provide New Zealanders with access to the data that is produced, collected, and used by departments and agencies across the government.

It is equally important that the data is made available through a single and searchable window. We have consolidated data from across government departments and agencies and have provided access to them all in one place at


  1. What can open data do for you? (VIDEO)
  2. Open/Closed/Shared: The world of data (VIDEO)
  3. Exploring the possibilities of open data in NZ (VIDEO)
  4. How open data is changing the game everywhere in NZ (VIDEO)


In 2009, Open Data became visible in the mainstream, with various governments, such as New Zealand, USA, UK, and Canada, announcing new initiatives towards opening up public information. In November 2009, the New Zealand Government launched its first-generation Open Data Portal to support the delivery of government open data in human and machine-readable formats –

New Zealand has become an international Open Data leader

1. New Zealand was ranked 4th equal in the world out of 86 countries in 2015 by the Open Data Barometer.

2. Open data and information is core to New Zealand’s involvement in the Open Government Partnership.


What is Open Data?

Open Data is defined as raw data that is human and machine-readable, freely shared, used, and built on without restrictions.

The New Zealand Data and Information Management Principles says that open data should be:

  • Open
  • Protected
  • Readily available
  • Trusted and authoritative
  • Well managed
  • Reasonably priced (preferably free)
  • Reusable.

Uses of Open Data in New Zealand

In July 2015 over 900 developers, students, and open data enthusiasts across New Zealand participated in GovHack, a 48-hour Australiasian hackathon. The teams competed and built apps using datasets from New Zealand’s Open Government portal –

The 31 New Zealand projects used over 100 different datasets. Over 3000 people in New Zealand and Australia participated in GovHack 2015. Check out the New Zealand 2015 prize winners here: GovHack 2015 Prize Winners.

For more examples of how open data is used, read some of the open data case studies here: Open Data Case Studies in New Zealand.

If you’re interested in what are the New Zealand’s Government’s most popular datasets, which agency was the last to upload new data, and more analytics, visit the portal.

Benefits of Open Data

Support for innovation

Access to knowledge resources in the form of data supports innovation in the private sector by reducing duplication and promoting reuse of existing resources. The availability of data in machine-readable form allows for creative mash-ups that can be used to analyse markets, predict trends and requirements, and direct businesses in their strategic investment decisions.

Advancing the government’s accountability and democratic reform

Increased access to government data and information provides the public with greater insight into government activities, service delivery, and use of tax dollars.

Leveraging public sector information to develop consumer and commercial products

Open and unrestricted access to scientific data for public interest purposes, particularly statistical, scientific, geographical, and environmental information, maximizes its use and value, and the reuse of existing data in commercial applications improves time-to-market for businesses.

Better use of existing investment in broadband and community information infrastructure

New Zealand has invested in information and communications networks in the form of technical infrastructure and community services, such as libraries and social service agencies. This investment will continue to add value-for-money for New Zealand by extending web technology from one-way communications medium to collaborative environment.

Support for research

Access to government research data supports evidence-based primary research in New Zealand and international academic, public sector, and industry-based research communities. Access to collections of data, reports, publications, and artifacts held in government institutions allows for the use of these collections by researchers.

Support informed decisions for consumers

Providing access to public sector service information to support informed decision-making; for example, real-time air travel statistics can help travelers to choose an airline and understand the factors that can lead to flight delays. Giving New Zealanders their say in decisions that affect them and the resulting potential for innovation and value builds trust and credibility.

Proactive Disclosure

Proactively providing data that is relevant to New Zealand reduces the amount of access to information requests, e-mails and media inquiries. This greatly reduces the administrative cost and burden associated with responding to such inquiries.

Examples exist for most of these areas.

Open Data and You!

Think you are ready to use open data? There’s no better time than the present. You can visit to find access to thousands of searchable open datasets.

If you can’t find the data that you’re looking for, request a dataset and we’ll do our best to publish it in a timely manner.

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