Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

NZOR – What’s in a name?

Scientific names are the index to all biological information. They provide the essential entry point for accessing and sharing information about our living world.  BUT even scientific names are a poor index because they are complex and may change as our knowledge of the biological world improves.

The New Zealand Organisms Register (NZOR) was established to help address this problem. NZOR is a critical data infrastructure to support management and access to biological data for NZ. Its vision is “An accurate, authoritative, complete and continuously updated catalogue of taxonomic names of all New Zealand biota and other taxa of importance to the New Zealand community. This catalogue is electronically available through one or more portals, and directly integrated into biodiversity and biosecurity systems used by central government ministries, departments, and agencies, local government, research institutes, NGOs and the wider community”.

NZOR aims to contain the names of all organisms relevant to NZ – irrespective of taxonomic status or group – and provide both rankings of reliability, including transparent access to provenance of data, and the ability to filter by quality and currency.

NZOR is delivered through a collaboration between Manaaki Whenua, MPI, DOC, and other data providers and is available at

The NZOR Steering Group continues to explore opportunities to improve the value of NZOR so it can fulfil the vision. While data infrastructure like this often flies below the radar for many decision-makers, it supports

  • biosecurity
  • conservation
  • land management
  • environmental reporting
  • new organism approvals and environmental protection
  • the science sector which relies on taxonomic information for research and problem-solving,
  • research and public education
  • RMA consenting processes, impact assessments and other resource management processes.

NZOR will be a key platform in the ‘Enable Smart Data’ goal of the Biosecurity 2025 Implementation Plan announced this month.