The most popular website used by New Zealanders in 2013 was the Google search engine. Searching for information was the second most popular use of the web after social networking. In the 1990s the web was poorly regarded as a source of information, but by 2011 the internet was believed to be more important as an information source than television, radio, newspapers, other people and community services such as libraries.
In May 2000 the New Zealand government issued a vision statement for e-government that ‘New Zealanders will be able to gain access to government information and services, and participate in our democracy, using the Internet, telephones and other technologies as they emerge.’1 Over the next decade there were huge developments in making government information available on the web – from regulations about such matters as immigration, fisheries, taxes or national parks, to making available the country’s official map series. Policy documents were routinely made available on agencies’ sites.
Under the New Zealand government open access and licensing framework (NZGOAL) issued in 2010, departments were encouraged to release Crown copyright work and non-copyright material for re-use by others.
In the 2010s there were growing opportunities to transact government business through the internet, including obtaining a new passport and submitting a tax return.
Educational and historical material
Many public agencies worked to make available scientific datasets and historical information that could be used for educational and research purposes. These included such resources as:
- Papers Past, hosted by the National Library of New Zealand, which by 2013 provided searchable digitised copies of three million pages from 83 newspapers covering the years 1839 to 1945
- Digital New Zealand, a huge database of New Zealand resources
- searchable collections of historical images from the National Library, Auckland City Libraries, Puke Ariki, Christchurch City Libraries and the Hocken Library
- Auckland Museum’s Cenotaph database of 115,000 men and women who served for New Zealand, especially in the world wars, which was linked to digitised copies of personnel files in Archives New Zealand’s Archway site
- Landcare Research’s database of New Zealand plants, Ngā tipu o Aotearoa
- digitised copies of the New Zealand Official Yearbook and the Appendices to the Journals of the House of Representatives
- libraries of older New Zealand publications digitised by Victoria University’s New Zealand Electronic Text Collection and the University of Auckland Library.
In addition public sites had brought together information about New Zealand for both general users and students. They included:
- Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, which included the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, and NZHistory, a major resource of material on New Zealand history, both of which were published by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage
- The Prow, an encyclopedia of the Nelson and Marlborough regions
- the Department of Conservation’s website, which included extensive information about the flora, fauna and public lands of the country
- Te Kete Ipurangi, a resource of educational materials for schools.
Many of these collections and reference sites drew on analogue images which had been digitised. In addition, the emergence of digital cameras made a very large body of born-digital images available on the web. Many New Zealanders made their digital photography available on sites such as Flickr.