Private company Eventfinder has accused the Government of going into business against it.
Eventfinder says the Ministry of Culture and Heritage has changed the scope of its planned website to compete head-to-head with it.
The private sector website and information-feed venture for cultural and sporting events says the ministry has also scuppered a deal it was about to sign with Tourism New Zealand, to provide a sophisticated database feed. It is planning to provide the database itself, says Eventfinder chief executive Michael Turner.
But Tourism New Zealand spokeswoman Cas Carter says it was “not at all” close to a deal. “We’re still looking at the options.”
Turner says he was told about a “cultural portal” that was being planned, which would bring together information from other websites. The ministry gave the impression it would concentrate on cultural events. Turner applauded that. “We thought there would be a synergy between the two organisations,” he says.
The ministry said it planned to employ three data-entry staff to enter details of future events, says Turner. Eventfinder planned a different business model, allowing organisers to enter and update information in real time.
The ministry has now increased its website’s scope to include more events such as sports fixtures, says Turner. This is similar to Eventfinder’s service. It has “copied our business model” — including the real-time data entry facility, he says. It has delayed the launch of its site until September, so as to add these features, Turner alleges.
The ministry’s chief executive, Martin Matthews, denies this. “It was always intended that the site would have these features and [that] has been a matter of public record since the project was first announced, in May last year. There has been no change to the project’s scope since its inception,” he says.