An amendment to the Birth, Death, Marriages and Relationships Registration Act in 2008 allowed for historical information to be made available, opening the way for internet services to be introduced. Previously, microfiche index searches and requests in writing or in person were the only way that the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA), genealogists and the public could seek out births, deaths and marriage records. Such a labour intensive process could take days or weeks.
Births and deaths have been recorded since 1848 and there are 11 million births, deaths, marriage and civil union records. When the amendment came into force on January 25 2009, DIA gave Intergen the green light to design and develop a website experience that would provide an easy process to obtain historical birth, death and marriage certificates.
Microfiche indexes had done their service. This slow route search could now be fast tracked with the introduction of an online web services for historical births, deaths and marriages records.
DIA put a very tight deadline on the table. Intergen were engaged to design and develop the whole front end of the website using .NET 3.5 and Microsoft SQL Server 2005. There were significant challenges around the necessity to rebuild the servers at DIA and to assimilate the new online billing service into the DIA billing environment. The server situation was resolved and a crisp, clear and easy to use online solution was reached on time and on budget for a go live date of February 25th. When Department of Internal Affairs Minister Richard Worth announced that the website was available, the response was immediate, with a phenomenal 13,507 unique visitors to the site between 12 midday and midnight that night.
DIA’s Project Manager, Mike Marsden confirms that the statistics received for the first month of operation and positive feedback received speaks volumes for the success of the new website. He says, “Intergen helped build a streamlined, good looking, easy to use website with a shopping mechanism which concludes a very fast and simple way for people to complete the searches they wish to make. They resolved any challenges early on and that was significant to making deadline.” He adds, “The ability for Intergen to collaborate effectively with several other vendors to provide an end-to-end solution was critical to the success of the site.”
NZ Net Guide columnist Jan Gow wrote, “What a year 2009 is proving to be for genealogists! The NZ Births, Deaths & Marriages index is online. This release is just fantastic. What’s more, we have what I think is a world first: the database updates every midnight, so new records come on line everyday, rather than waiting for a yearly January 1 update.”
Early statistics recording over 3,000 unique visitors a day show that the website has answered a very strong public call for readily available birth, death and marriage information. Site users can enter a family name and dates, or a registration number to get the information they require and can use a credit card to order a certificate.
By marrying accessibility with good design, this new online service means it has never been easier to reach historic birth, death and marriage information.