About WhereTheyStand

Over time, I intend to increase the scope of this site to include a wide variety of data. For now, it includes bills, votes, and key financial information about candidates.


Who made this site?

This site is not affiliated with any political party, candidate, or government body.

It has been created independently by me, James Macey. I'm a law and commerce student at Victoria University of Wellington (2021 will be my second year of study), and I work on this site in my spare time.

If you really like this site, please consider buying me a hot choccy!

How far back does this site go?

At launch, WhereTheyStand contains activity for the 51st and 52nd Parliaments (formed after the 2014 and 2017 elections, respectively). Naturally, the data is richest for the 52nd Parliament, but you will still be able to see some information from the 51st Parliament.

There is a slight discrepancy in how most votes from the 51st Parliament are formatted in Hansard, which is preventing import. I'm in the process of creating some kind of workaround for this.

Basic information for MPs elected at the 2020 General Election (53rd Parliament) is also online now, with more to come in the coming months.

Where does the data come from?

The data comes from a range of sources — some of which are nicer to work with than others. I've tried to sum it all up in this list:

  • Bills and votes: Parliament (parliament.nz)
  • Election expenses and donations: Electoral Commission
  • MPs' expenses: Parliament (parliament.nz)
  • Ministers' expenses: Department of Internal Affairs (dia.govt.nz)
  • MPs' financial interests: Parliament (parliament.nz)
  • MPs' email addresses and names: Parliament (data.govt.nz)
  • MPs' social media accounts: Originally based on and corrected from EveryPolitician, by mySociety (everypolitician.org). Twitter account details and metrics regularly updated through the Twitter API.

Why can't I see ___ on the site?

There are a number of reasons why something may be showing up. Less-frequently updated information like electoral returns and results, financial interests, and expenses, require manual intervention to upload.

Bills and votes are generally updated automatically the day after they are put up on the Parliament website, so there can easily be a few working days between a vote occurring and the data displaying on WhereTheyStand.

In other cases, there have been errors encountered when trying to automatically update information that need to be ironed out. This is most common with votes, which require Hansard to be consistently formatted; for example, usually the Green Party is listed on Hansard as Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand and ACT as ACT New Zealand, but are sometimes listed as Green Party and ACT Party, respectively. These differences might seem inconsequential, but can prevent a vote from being loaded correctly.

Acknowledgements

Inspiration for this site is drawn from TheyWorkForYou, a Parliamentary monitoring site in the U.K. built by mySociety. WhereTheyStand is a long way from that right now — but if you want to see what a great Parliamentary monitoring site looks like, TheyWorkForYou is an excellent example.

How is this site funded?

WhereTheyStand runs on Microsoft Azure. This means there is a yearly cost for the virtual machine used for this, and with the exception of the generosity of those who contribute through Buy Me a Coffee, this is covered by me. There is also the domain registration fee, and storage costs. All in all, it’s about $300 a year. Although the site would be significantly cheaper to run if it wasn’t backed by a live database that automatically updated itself, I believe there is significant value in having up-to-date information and flexibility in what can be done.


James Macey on Wednesday, 01 July 2020 at 19.08.
Last modified Saturday, 09 January 2021 at 12.08