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This month, as part of the work the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) is doing to deliver on Commitment 11 of the OGP National Action Plan 2018-2020, the State Services Commission (SSC) released a historic machinery of government events dataset.

The dataset contains information such as agency names, establishment / disestablishment dates, and their position in the public sector. This release covers State sector agencies.

You can find the dataset on the Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission website (formerly State Services Commission, SSC)  and

The benefits

This dataset will mean New Zealanders and others can access authoritative, open data about government agencies, learn more about how government is structured over time, and reuse the open data in new ways. For instance, users can get a list of names that an agency has been known by historically.

Agencies such as DIA, the Ministry of Justice, Archives, National Library, Statistics NZ, DPMC and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa all work with this data. It’s hoped that SSC’s data can provide authoritative base information to support these entities.

The dataset

There are 3 tables:

  • A list of all organisations — their name, a unique identifier, New Zealand Business Number, Māori name.
  • An Events table — detailing the machinery of government events that have taken place over an agency’s history. For example, an agency’s establishment, name changes, changes in status, and disestablishment, along with the event’s date.
  • A Public Sector table — which provides several common groupings of entities into broader groups. For example, using this you can group wānanga, universities and institutes of technology into a broader group of tertiary education institutes.

From this dataset you can:

  • derive what entities the state sector has been composed of at any given point in time in history
  • understand how that has changed over time
  • see what all the previous names of an entity have been
  • see all the machinery of government events that have taken place for an agency.

More information

You can find out more about how this work has developed in previous blog posts.

Can you help?

Data quality is important here, and this dataset is not perfect, particularly for data in the 1800s, where a lot of records are missing.

We consider the release to be a start of a journey, where the doors to this dataset have been opened. In the same way that open source projects benefit from community contributions, this dataset can become better through the critique of those trying to take advantage of it.

To get involved email

Thanks in advance!


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