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Progress report as at 31 December 2021

This implementation plan covered the period from 1 July 2021 to 31 December to 2021. The focus for this plan was on Principle 4: comparable and interoperable.

Implementation plan to 31 December 2021

We completed 9 of the 10 items of the initial Open Data Charter implementation plan by 31 December 2021, although there were some delays due to COVID-19. We also achieved our aims of raising awareness and streamlining engagement with other agencies.

Progress achieved


  • Finalise external engagement plan by 1 August 2021. Completed

The external engagement plan identified known stakeholders and the ideal level of engagement that would be appropriate for them. This determined who we could initially share our implementation plan with and our intentions for the Open Data Charter going forwards.

  • Reconnect with Open Data Champions by 1 August 2021. Completed

We reconnected with the Open Data Champions to let them know what we are doing as part of the Open Data Charter and updated them on our new implementation plan. We also hosted a workshop to provide a networking opportunity for them, as well as the rest of the open data community.

Supporting standardisation across the data system

  • Set up Implementation and Review Committee (responsible for providing an agency/organisation perspective on topics that will have mandated data standards) by 30 September 2021. Completed

The Implementation and Review Committee is a cross-agency group from the Public Service. They consider the impact a mandated standard would have on the organisations represented in the group. 

About the Implementation and Review Committee

  • Scope the size of the review of the 'Ethnicity' standard by 31 December 2021. Completed

The scoping indicated there should be a major review of the ‘Ethnicity’ statistical standard. This will include reviewing the ethnicity classification, ethnicity concept, and questionnaire module(s). Work on this has begun and is planned to be completed mid-2023.

  • Mandate 'Gender, Sex and Variations of Sex Characteristics' standard by 31 December 2021. Completed

You can find information and guidance on how to apply the standard on
Gender, Sex, and Variations of Sex Characteristics' standard.

The ‘Gender, Sex and Variations of Sex Characteristics’ standard has been mandated. Information and guidance on how to apply the standard will be published soon on 

  • Complete public consultation for the 'iwi classification' update by 31 December 2021. Completed

The iwi classification is a statistical list of iwi and iwi-related groups throughout New Zealand that are recognised by Stats NZ.  

Stats NZ updates the list regularly to ensure changes to iwi and iwi-related groups are acknowledged. The last update to the list was completed in 2017. 

Public consultation for this ‘iwi classification’ update was open from 30 September to 23 November 2021. Stats NZ aims to update the iwi list in March 2022 and will communicate this by April 2022. 

Consultation on iwi classification update

  • Complete Harmonised System update in collaboration with Customs by 31 December 2021. Completed

The Stats NZ Standards team have spent the last year working with New Zealand Customs to update the New Zealand Harmonised System Classification (NZHSC). The NZHSC is central to the production of overseas merchandise trade statistics.

The NZHSC is based on the international Harmonized System (HS) classification. Every five years, the World Customs Organization issues updates to the HS to ensure it keeps up with changing trade patterns and technology.

This update allows for consistent international comparison of New Zealand’s trade data and allows collection of data that captures changing import and export trends.

The new HS 2022 version was effective from 1 January 2022.

Overview of 2022 updates to the New Zealand Harmonised System Classification

Improving documentation and guidelines for open data

  • Update open government data information and guidance on by 30 September 2021. Completed

We reviewed the open government guidance on to make sure the current guidance was fit for purpose and to identify if there was any guidance missing. As a result of the review, we published two new pages that focus on privacy and standards in an open data context.

Privacy for open data – updated 30 September 2021

Standards for open data – updated 24 September 2021

  • Publish guidance on how to output data on 'Gender, Sex and Variations of Sex Characteristics' by 31 December 2021. In progress

Developing the guidance has taken longer than expected due to the complexity of the topics. The Standards team at Stats NZ are now aiming to publish the guidance by 31 March 2022.

Understanding barriers to comparable and interoperable data

  • Report on the barriers preventing agencies from providing and creating more comparable and interoperable data by 1 October 2021. Completed

The publication of the report was delayed until 23 December 2021 as the workshop for exploring the barriers with the wider open data community, was held later than planned due to changes in Covid-19 alert levels.

Report: Understanding barriers to comparable and interoperable data

Reflecting on our plan

What went well?

Creating a six-month plan was a good place to start and it has helped us to gauge what the current views and experiences are of those working with open data across the system. The timeframe of six-months was manageable and adding items that were already underway at Stats NZ also made it achievable.

Choosing Charter principle 4 to start with worked well as it is foundational to several of the other principles. Principle 4 is about ensuring data can be easily compared between sectors, across geographical locations, and over time. It highlights the importance of standardisation, consistent formats, accessible metadata, and good documentation to enable interoperability and ease of data integration.

Principle 4 defined the scope of the plan, so that we could focus our efforts on work items that will help to enable data that is comparable and interoperable. Principle 4 also aligns with the Government Data Strategy and Roadmap goals of “Providing the right data at the right time” and “Building the infrastructure that enables effective data management and re-use".

We hosted a successful online workshop that included lightning presentations from people in the open data community and discussions about the barriers that prevent agencies from providing and releasing more comparable and interoperable data. These discussions informed the report on barriers to comparable and interoperable data. The workshop also allowed us to update our list of open data community contacts.

What didn’t go well?

Work on this Open Data Charter implementation plan started more than a year after the Open Government Data and Information Programme concluded. This meant we had an outdated list of open data contacts, and we didn’t have a good understanding of the current state of open data in the NZ government data system.  This made it difficult to find out what was happening outside Stats NZ.

Now that we have reconnected with the government open data community, our intentions are to gain wider contribution from other agencies in building the next iteration of the plan.

Covid-19 also created challenges and caused delays to some items. For example, after planning for an in-person workshop in Wellington, we had to change to an entirely online workshop due to different Covid-19 alert levels across the country.

We have also found that having the six-month plan end at Christmas has been difficult. The lead up to Christmas is a busy time which caused delays in reviewing the plan and creating the next iteration of the plan.

Next iteration of the implementation plan

We’re exploring options for supporting the implementation of the Open Data Charter going forward and the outcomes of this will be published at a later date.