Delayed by several months due to tricky technical issues and the intervention of a general election, the e-government's online portal was finally launched yesterday.
Prime Minister Helen Clark pushed the on switch at the Mt Wellington community library in Panmure, accompanied by State Services Minister Trevor Mallard.
A few minor technical glitches led to one or two broken links, but in general the site appeared to be working smoothly.
The portal, which contains information from 90 central and local government agencies on more than 3500 services, lets users find anything from how to register a death, tell your MP something or even learn a few rude words in Maori.
Clark says being quicker and more convenient than using a phone or calling at a government agency in person, the portal will save people time and make it easier for them to have a say in government.
It takes a topical approach, so users don't have to know which government agency they are dealing with when seeking a service, such as how to get a passport. It also features an address book-style A-Z of services amid other lists.
The New Zealand-made portal contains a mix of both Microsoft and Linux technologies, along with software from firms such as UK content management specialist Autonomy.
Gen-i developed the architecture, while Copeland Wilson & Associates provided the web interface. The site is hosted by Datacom.
Displaying the range of government services so simply, it "is a showcase for the public sector", Clark says.
Mallard says the portal has been tested over 9.6kbit/s phone line links, so should be reasonably fast loading in rural areas and easy for the unsighted to use braille readers.
The portal works by linking to other sites, but users can still go direct to the sites without using the portal.
"This is a starting point, a snapshot, it will be improved on an ongoing basis," Mallard says. "We want to make sure that we in New Zealand can take advantage of the best technology there is."