Looming election inspires politico Web invasion

Political party presence on the World Wide Web is ramping up as October's general election approaches.

Political party presence on the World Wide Web is ramping up as October's general election approaches. The major parties all have domains registered and plans in place--but it continues to be the smaller parties which set the pace.

Act New Zealand has a home-page-in-waiting at http://www.act.org.nz, where there is a message telling interested punters to watch for a launch announcement in the nz.politics newsgroup. The site is maintained by Act Wellington Central, and specificallly, Thomas Kriha of Victoria University, who in the past has provided the OHMS service, which relayed parties' press releases to Usenet.

The Progressive Green Party has a profile even more modest than Act, but it does now have a fully-functioning Website at http://www.progreen.org.nz. Party president Rob Fenwick says he is confident that the Website will raise the party's profile and make communication with its members easier.

The ProGreens were, however, beaten to the Web by the original Green party of Aotearoa, whose page at http://www.greens.org.nz contains links to a considerable body of information about the party, its activities and policies. The Alliance is barely mentioned, but Greens co-convenor Dana Glendining has her own home page in her capacity as Alliance candidate for Wellington Central.

United New Zealand has a bare-bones Website at http://united.org.nz. Further towards the margins of the political spectrum, Libertarianz does not yet have its own home page, but policy documents by leader Lindsay Perigo and deputy leader Deborah Coddington are stored at the Website of Perigo's Free Radical magazine, http://freeradical.co.nz.

In terms of stuff that is actually intended as comedy, there's always the highly controversial Winston Peters is a Nazi Home Page (http://www.wijinmusic.com/blackh/winston.html), where founder Stephen Blackheath is currently running a sweepstake on when Michael Laws will return as a candidate. The prize is a dozen foreign beers. Tauranga ISP Enternet's offer to create an official--and more sympathetic--Winston Peters page seems to have fallen on deaf ears. Meanwhile, New Zealand First's recently demoted communications officer, Rex Widerstrom, has toned down his extremely arch postings to local Usenet groups, possibly as a result of some of his better lines about his bosses actually making the printed media.

The party which could justifiably lay claim to being first on the Web, McGillicuddy Serious, can boast an impressive list of email-connected party contacts at its site at http://www.hk.linkage.net:80/~clarke/index.html, but the site itself seems to have stopped dead. Messages promise it will launch on "24 Janary 1996" (sic), but it is still clearly under construction.

And the remainder? We can confirm that the domains national.org.nz, labour.org.nz and alliance.org.nz have all been registered by the respective parties; the first from the Christchurch branch of PlaNet and the latter two from the Wellington ISP Actrix. Labour's communications office confirms that a professionally-developed page is in the works, but for now the party's only independent online representation is Steve Maharey's home page at http://www.netlink.co.nz/~labour/index.htm.

Massey University economics lecturer Stuart Birks maintains a list of political party home pages at http://www.massey.ac.nz/~KBirks/parties.htm, where new party sites will be listed.

And a final word: is the newly registered domain rrnz.co.nz, owned by Ruth Richardson New Zealand Limited, of Christchurch, the Mother of All Domain Names? We dread to think ...

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