Coverage, quality, accuracy and currency

There are three fundamentally different kinds of NZOR data. First the scientific and vernacular names, second the taxonomic data (i.e,. which of these names are preferred names, and which are synonyms etc.), and the third is the status of the organism as present or absent from New Zealand.

Taxonomic content

As mentioned elsewhere (see what data is provided?) the primary data source for NZOR is the nomenclatural and taxonomic data managed within key agencies such as Landcare Research, NIWA and Te Papa, including the data content of the New Zealand Inventory of Biodiversity.

Within agencies such as Landcare Research nomenclatural and taxonomic data is associated with supporting the systematics research programmes and managing/curating the national organism collections. These collections are the primary national repositories of vouchered specimens and are supported through Core Funding to the Crown Research Institutes. The material they house provides the physical evidence for the occurrence of organisms and their distribution. Taxonomic research (increasingly DNA-oriented) based on those specimens provides the understanding of their biology, ecology, evolutionary history and their cultural or economic significance. That research feeds back into a better understanding of the organisms and the names we apply to them, and that data is maintained in taxonomic databases.

NZOR harvests data from taxonomic databases associated with these national repositories, for example, the plant names database associated with collections in the Allan Herbarium, or fungi and pathogenic bacteria/virus names associated with collections in the PDD Fungarium. New Zealand, like elsewhere in the world, has a limited number of professional taxonomists with the skills and resources to keep such information up to date. Naturally the limited resource is prioritised to the current research and commercial work programmes. There will be taxonomic groups or individual species that have not been recently reviewed and where NZOR data content may appear out of date with respect to currently accepted opinions elsewhere. This resource limitation points to another important function of the NZOR infrastructure:

Presence/absence in New Zealand

Currently the NZOR taxonomic data providers also provide statements on presence/absence of an organism in New Zealand. In future we hope to expand the data provider network to include other authoritative sources for this kind of data such as national biosecurity databases.

The quality of data with regard to presence of a taxon in New Zealand varies. The quality is high where information is based on vouchered specimens in a national repository recently examined by specialists. It is low where information is without supporting voucher material, or appearing in dated literature, and in groups without modern taxonomic revision or resident New Zealand specialists. The relevant Data Providers should be consulted whenever there is any doubt about presence or absence of a taxon in New Zealand. NZOR provides the feedback services to enable end-user/data-provider communication.

Data Use and Attribution

NZOR data content constitutes publicly available information on preferred names, synonyms and presence/absence collated integrated into a single national resource. In large part NZOR data content is created though public good funding. NZOR Data Providers do not claim intellectual property on these data. NZOR is part of an increasing movement toward open data and supports the New Zealand Open Government Data programme and the New Zealand Government Open Access and Licensing Framework (NZGOAL).

Creative Commons

NZOR content is currently made available made available under Creative Commons Attribution-Non-commercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0).

This license allows for the re-distribution of the data and any derivative works based on the data, provided that the source of the data is acknowledged and that derivative products are released under the same conditions.

The use and reuse of NZOR data content under an open data framework is actively encouraged. However, the long term support of the NZOR infrastructure and the taxonomic expertise delivering data content requires on-going financial support. The continuance of public good funding for such activities relies on demonstrable end-user uptake and consequent accrued cost-benefits. The ‘open data’ model, which is increasingly being adopted in New Zealand and elsewhere creates a challenge for monitoring data-use, which has historically provided the objective metric for evaluating uptake. Once data is openly available its use can no longer be tracked or monitored. We therefore ask that end-users maximise the opportunity to cite NZOR and its Data Providers in systems and outputs using NZOR infrastructure and data.

Citation Convention


New Zealand Organisms Register (2012). XXX records contributed by Landcare Research, Alan Herbarium (Content Provider). YYY records provided by New Zealand Inventory of Biodiversity (Content Provider).. … Date of Access YYYY-MM-DD