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What is open data?

Open data is data anyone can use and share. You are probably already using open data every day. It has an open licence, is openly accessible, and is both human-readable and machine-readable.

Examples of common open data

  • geospatial information (getting from A to B)
  • weather data (deciding how to dress for the day)
  • census data (making business decisions).

Open data drives innovation. It helps to build new business and encourages more strategic investment – creating new jobs, new industries and stronger economies. It can also lead to positive social and cultural outcomes, and can increase transparency and democratic participation.

Open licence



Learn the basics - the open data toolkit

The open data toolkit was designed to help governments and open data enthusiasts understand the basic concepts of open data, how to plan and implement an open government data programme and some tricks on how to approach a dataset. It resulted from a collaboration between Code for Aotearoa and Land Information New Zealand.

View the open data toolkit

View the open data toolkit on GitHub

Land Information New Zealand

The toolkit provides a basic step-by-step approach to help government agencies release more open data in a simplified manner. Covering topics such as:

  • What is open data?
  • Why open data?
  • Examples of open data use
  • The groundwork required to release open data
  • The toolkit itself (with each stage of the release process).

If you want comprehensive guidance to help you release open government data, then refer to the open data release checklist. 

Open data release checklist

Case studies

As the open government data and information programme helped government organisations, we also worked closely with non-government groups using that data for public good. In our showcase, we have collected some of the inspiring uses of government data for you to read. 

Show case

The potential of open data video


Open government data

  1. Does not include private information about individuals (it is non-personal, unclassified and non-confidential).
  2. Is of high value, and contributes to economic, social, cultural or environmental growth.
  3. Provides transparency and illustrates the government's performance.
  4. Contributes to greater government efficiency through improved information sharing.
  5. Is collected, commissioned or created by a government agency in carrying out its everyday responsibilities.
  6. Is publicly funded.
  7. Can be freely used, reused and redistributed by other agencies, and the public.
  8. Has an open licence for reuse (Creative Commons using NZGOAL).


Releasing open data in New Zealand

Open data in New Zealand is released under the New Zealand Data and Information Management Principles, which state it should be:

  1. open
  2. protected
  3. readily available
  4. trusted and authoritative
  5. well-managed
  6. reasonably priced (preferably free)
  7. reusable.

New Zealand Data and Information Management Principles

Related resources 

Open Data Institute's e-Learning programme

New to open data? Explore these 13 short interactive e-learning modules from the Open Data Institute, designed to help you discover what open data is and how it is changing people's lives.

13 short interactive e-learning modules

Open Data Handbook

Once you understand the basics, make use of the Open Data Handbook by the Open Knowledge Foundation. This handbook discusses the legal, social and technical aspects of open data. It can be used by anyone, but is especially designed for those seeking to open up data.

Open Data Handbook

Contact us

If you’d like more information, have a question, or want to provide feedback, please email

Content last reviewed 24 August 2020.

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