Government decides better weather data access ‘not a priority’

The Government has decided not to change access to weather data in New Zealand, putting improved access into the ‘not a priority’ basket.

A spokesperson for Minister of Research, Science and Innovation Dr Megan Woods said that NIWA was “performing satisfactorily against the New Zealand open data principles, therefore no changes were necessary for its data-access provisions”.

This is despite a 2017 review of open-access weather data for MBIE found New Zealand had the most restrictive barriers out of the United States, Norway, Australia, the United Kingdom and France.

Stuff: Weather data remains restricted –  Government not stepping in to release more taxpayer-funded weather data

The Government has no intention of changing how New Zealand’s two taxpayer-funded forecasting agencies work in an effort to improve access to weather data.

Minister of Research, Science and Innovation Dr Megan Woods says changes have already been signalled by state-owned enterprise MetService to improve data access for competitors, meaning “its services will better align with New Zealand’s open data principles”.

Woods said the decision not to change Niwa and MetService’s operating models was made by her, Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Associate Minister of State-Owned Enterprises Shane Jones after discussions in September last year.

In a briefing, released to Stuff under the Official Information Act, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) proposed five options for improving access to data, ranging from the status quo to structural changes of both agencies.

MBIE recommended negotiating changes with both to minimise any possible loss of income from releasing what is largely taxpayer-funded data.

But other documents released showed Treasury did not want to pay for any solution and said MetService’s planned changes were enough, a recommendation that was adopted by the ministers.

MetService’s data changes already under way include:

– A new website with improved data support to be rolled out in the first half of this year.

– A new interface to make a wider range of free data, up to a certain level, publicly available.

– Provision of open oceanographic data.

WeatherWatch managing director Philip Duncan…

…said it was ironic, but unsurprising, that significant parts of the reports dealing with open access to data had been withheld.

“Taxpayers must fund both Niwa and MetService, then we cannot use the data we fund, and on top of that the Government redacts information about why.

“If both Niwa and MetService operate heavily commercially, and both say they are highly accurate, why would the Government need to give them even more money for apparent ‘lost revenue’ if they opened up data?”

National’s research, science and innovation spokeswoman, Dr Parmjeet Parmar​…

…said it was disappointing the Government had opted for “business as usual” after recent reviews.

“With this decision she is going to do nothing. After all this work, and now she has come back and stopped this halfway. In my view it has been a big waste of resources.”


“The ministers decided changing the legislative and operating model was not a priority when [the] Government is tackling a number of other priorities”.

Labour has used “not a priority” as an excuse for not doing things they have previously indicated they might do (before they got into Government).

‘Not a priority’ – not actually a progressive government as claimed by Jacinda Ardern..


  1. Ray

     /  16th January 2019

    Does DrMegan Woods set the standard in the race for worst Minister award 2019?
    “Not a priority” now we are attempting to run things.
    Really surprised she didn’t call for a committee to look into it.

    • Blazer

       /  16th January 2019

      pssst…the Govt cannot change the weather.
      Google weather every day or get an app to keep you up to …speed…otherwise…..fine!

      • Gerrit

         /  16th January 2019

        So why does the state not shut down NIWA? Google can do it all for you for “free”..

        Save a ton of money that can instead be used for distribution to feed Arderns poverty stricken folk.

        Might even build a suburb or two of Twyford kiwibuild homes to house said poverty stricken folk.

        • Duker

           /  16th January 2019

          Thats because NIWA arent a weather bureau . They are more long range, climate comes to mind. Plus the letters say Water and Atmosphere research, which I think extends out to include the water in the oceans .

          • Gerrit

             /  16th January 2019

            Met service raw data is also on the “not for public consumption” list.

            “Woods said the decision not to change Niwa and MetService’s operating models was made by her, Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Associate Minister of State-Owned Enterprises Shane Jones after discussions in September last year.”

    • thespectrum

       /  16th January 2019

      No Megan first of all says no improvement needed. Then when there is enough demand for a review she can say because of public concern we will set up a committee to allow some back benchers to hold seminars in some environmentally friendly glamping venues. Jolly good 🙂

  2. Gerrit

     /  16th January 2019

    Weather forecast pre election: Open and transparent government.
    Actual weather post election: Cloudy obfuscation and no signs of change till 2020.

    If tax payers fund the data collection, does the tax payer own the data and have free access to all the said data?

    What is hidden in the data the tax payer is not allowed to see?

    Sea levels are not rising? Actual weather patterns are not following a trend as desired by the “global climate change” mantra?

    Makes a nice conspiracy theory. And makes the minister look pathetically weak with the “not a priority” statement.

    What is this government’s priority? Certainly not open and transparent government.

    • Blazer

       /  16th January 2019

      Nationals default position…’we don’t have…the data’.

      • Gerrit

         /  16th January 2019

        Another blazing squirrel…seeing this is about Labour.

        • Blazer

           /  16th January 2019

          no ..this is your jaundiced opinion…nothing more…’Weather forecast pre election: Open and transparent government.
          Actual weather post election: Cloudy obfuscation and no signs of change till 2020.’

      • thespectrum

         /  16th January 2019

        Nationals default position ?
        Power is the most important reason for being in politics.
        and we should be in power all the time.
        When we are not in power we will become incredibly angry
        and create a climate of fear and hatred to unseat the sitting Government.
        We will blame beneficiaries the unemployed minority groups
        especially Maori and pacific Islanders
        solo parents and the education sector.
        Conveniently these groups don’t vote National.
        We will never attack business, banking, farmers.
        We will never call superannuitants beneficiaries.

  3. David

     /  16th January 2019

    They are obviously hiding the cooling trend we are in to protect the Greens and how popular would Ardern be with yoofs if she hadnt crapped on about climate change.

    • Corky

       /  16th January 2019

      Scams only work if the victims are continually hoodwinked. Conspiracies aside..there’s a budget in May. Comrades on benefits will need looking after this time around. The party always comes first – weather is further down the list.

  4. Duker

     /  16th January 2019

    “What is this government’s priority? Certainly not open and transparent government.”

    The actions of the ministers transparent

  5. Duker

     /  16th January 2019

    Weather watch has been around for some time, especially the 9 yrs of national. They didnt see it as a priority as well.

    The real reasons seem to be that Metservice and NIwa would want the government to make up the revenue shortfall- that often kills off the rush of blood to the head over changes which benefit a private company.

  6. duperez

     /  16th January 2019

    Is saying “not a priority” the bad thing? Or not having it (the subject of this) as a priority?
    Is prioritising a bad thing?