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Ministry rhetoric doesn't match reality

Media Release 7 September 2006

The Ministry for Culture and Heritage's public record appears contrary to their actions.

Eventfinder's allegations that the Ministry isn't sticking to its original strategy for the cultural portal have been denied.

In articles published this week in Computerworld and The Independent Financial Review, Ministry chief executive Martin Matthews says there have been no changes to the project's scope, and this is a matter of public record since the project was announced in May 2005.

An examination of the Ministry's public record about the cultural portal doesn't indicate that a national events calendar will be the portal's primary focus, nor that stakeholders will be able to maintain their own event information, key points of difference to Eventfinder's business.

A Computerworld article published in October 2000 describes the portal's intention as "celebrating New Zealand culture". The portal was to echo a British Government project, originally estimated to cost up to $NZ350 million, that would explore museums, sites, galleries, films and stage performances.

The UK site was launched in October 2003, and doesn't include a national events calendar.

A May 2005 media release announces the portal will "offer a co-ordinated web presence for government cultural agencies, government funded cultural organisations, and other cultural entities", and will receive $3.6 million in funding.

"The first stage of the project will be to build the infrastructure of a web portal, as a common access point to arts, culture and heritage information, including the ability to search across associated government agency websites.

"The second stage will set up a cultural events website within the portal, with a facility for online bookings. The final stage will offer access to cultural products, activities, and services," said Helen Clark, Prime Minister and Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage.

However it appears that the Ministry's cultural portal (, made live to the public last Monday, has a national events calendar as its primary focus.

A December 2005 media release announces the portal will "help connect up cultural content, drawing it together from a range of different websites", and will include cultural events and activities.

The Ministry has produced a "New Zealand Classification of Cultural Activities" as part of a report, "A Measure of Culture", available from Statistics New Zealand.

The classification does not include any mention of sport or recreation.
The Ministry's own website includes a description of the first development phase that will "yield an events-based website with searchable data on cultural events".

This appears to be contrary to the Minister's prior media release that the first phase was to "build a common access point..." and "the second stage will set up a cultural events website within the portal".

Michael Turner, Eventfinder's ( chief executive, says that his team was shocked when the portal was made available to the public, as the Ministry's public record didn't accurately signal their intentions.

"If they had been upfront, we may not have decided to invest so heavily in developing the business and underlying technologies", said Turner.

Sources:Scoop - Government Ministry takes direct aim at Eventfinder:

Computerworld - Event site accuses: ‘Govt competing against us’:

Computerworld - NZ culture Web site in the works:

UK Government Culture online:

NZ Government media release 16/05/2005 - One stop online access to cultural information:

NZ Government media release 6/12/2005 - One stop online access to cultural information:

Statistics New Zealand - New Zealand Classification of Cultural


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