New Zealand First appears to have made the great leap backwards.
The party Website has vanished and its Internet domain name, nzfirst.org.nz, is now a "lame delegation" - a category normally confined to bankrupt businesses and speculative registrations.
The domain name and the Website were both initiated last year by Rex Widerstrom, the party's former media offer, who is now suing several senior party members over alleged irregularities in voting for the party list.
The Website was a source of some embarassment to the party during and immediately after the coalition talks. It prominently featured the party's "12 fundamental principles", some of which, including a statement that any attempt to induce a party MP to vote against the wishes of his or her electorate would constitute "a contempt of Parliament", appeared to be directly contradicted by provisions in the coalition agreement.
Now, the party's domain name is in double jeopardy. It was registered in May last year and is about to miss the ISOCNZ deadline for pre-July 1996 names to be brought up to full registration. It began attracting registration fees in January. And although Waikato's nameservers still point towards Voyager, the name has been deleted from both Voyager's nameservers.
Under New Zealand DNS policy, a domain must point to at least two nameservers or, according to ISOCNZ registrar Patrick O'Brien, it becomes a "lame delegation" and cannot be used. O'Brien says attempts should already have been made to contact NZ First as part of ISOCNZ's drive to urge holders of all "pre-July" domains to to fully register their names.
Computerworld has spoken to both the people listed as contacts for the nzfirst.org.nz name in the ISOCNZ database. Wellington Web designer Don Robertson says he has had no contact with the party since he helped Widerstrom register the name last May.
Mike Rika, who designed and maintained the NZ First site with his son Simon, says the site (and, subsequently, the DNS information) was deleted from Voyager's system.
"We started off with Rex Widerstrom and then it went to Mike Booker, and he wasn't altogether familiar with the Internet, so he pretty much let us go," says Rika. "No one down there seemed to really know what the Internet was about. And of course prior to the election nobody was prepared to tell them.
"When New Zealand First got into government, they decided to stop and said they'd get back to us. They said 'we're in government now, Parliamentary services will probably look after it'. They didn't communicate with us, so I rang up one of the guys and he said, look, it seems like nobody's interested, so we stopped doing it."
Although Parliamentary Services helps administer government resources on the Internet, it has a stated policy of not handling any party material.
Computerworld was told by Booker, the party's press officer, that the party site " is down - I'm not sure exactly why. I've overheard people talking about and wondering where it's gone. I'll have someone get back to you."
When the party does eventually find someone to address the issue, the attitude from ISOCNZ will probably be benevolent.
"We've actually signalled a deadline this month, because unless you make deadlines nothing happens," says O'Brien. "But once we get to that stage, we will review who has converted to full registration and continue trying to contact people.
"A number of those pre-July names, we don't actually have contact information for, because the information is so old - so you can't really put a guillotine on people if you can contact them, can you? So there is no absolute deadline where people automatically disappear."
The policy is similar for "lame" delegations, where names will not be placed in the 60-day "deletion pool" unless they are explicitly relinquished by the holder, says O'Brien.
"I'm sure it's going to be possible to get hold of somebody in the NZ First organisation, make them aware they have a domain name, make them aware of the processes, and that they need to take some action."
A quip whip around of other party Websites confirmed that those of National, Labour the Alliance and United were alive and well - with the Alliance's site looking particularly lively.