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Weather data complaint upheld

The storm over weather data use may be resolved. Photo: Jamie Troughton.

WeatherWatch’s complaint that taxpayer-funded agencies MetService and NIWA are using taxpayer-funded data for their own commercial gain is upheld by an independent review by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment.

The review was completed nearly a year ago but was not made public until now due to election/political reasons.

"This report validates, vindicates and shows true value to everything we have said publicly about how government agencies MetService and NIWA unfairly commercialise tax funded data for their own commercial gains,” says WeatherWatch head forecaster Philip Duncan.

“The report says no other country does it this way. Finally an official government report fully understands and details what we have been saying for a decade - this is tremendous support to our campaign to free up data like the rest of the western world.”

The full report ‘Weather Permitting: Review of open access to weather data in New Zealand’, is here.

In previous years former Prime Minister John Key supported the fight for open weather data, as did former Minster Steven Joyce, former party leader and Senior Minister Peter Dunne and new Labour Minister Clare Curran.

"This fight has support on both sides of the aisle, now the government needs to decide what is more important - open data that tax payers have already funded, or continuing to allow MetService and NIWA to have exclusive commercial access to data New Zealanders all collectively tax fund," says Philip.

“Over the past few months MBIE has ignored repeated formal emails from us about the review and in recent weeks WeatherWatch.co.nz was forced to air our concerns publicly on Twitter due to the Minister’s office also ignoring us.

“It’s been a very frustrating several months with the previous National Government ignoring OIA requests for months.”

WeatherWatch is especially pleased that new Minister, Dr Megan Woods, will be taking matters further this year, says Philip.

“We hope to meet with Minister Woods in the near future and are very keen to have positive and fair discussions about the New Zealand weather set up.”

In an email to WeatherWatch Richard Walley of MBIE says the Minister of Research, Science and Innovation, Dr Megan Woods, indicates she wants to explore how to address some of the recommendations of the report, and has asked MBIE to look at this.

The Minister also wants to ensure that the costs of any changes, likely to be met by the taxpayer, are proportionate to the benefits, says Richard.

“In our view the costs to make this data freely available are being grossly exaggerated to protect the current set up,” says Philip.

“One important line to focus on at the beginning of this report entirely backs up the complaint WeatherWatch.co.nz has had for well over a decade: ‘The New Zealand model is at the most commercial and restrictive end of cost and limitations on data use [in the world,’ says MBIE and the Official Review.

“While it was disappointing we were kept in the dark for so long on the supposed ‘transparent’ review, we sincerely appreciate being given immediate access to the report today. We also a very enthused that Dr Woods will be taking a closer look at this.”

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