The Government will look into an apparent double-up in which New Zealanders are paying millions of dollars a year to support two national weather forecasting agencies.

State-owned enterprise MetService is New Zealand's official provider of weather warnings and a range of government-funded forecasts.

But in recent years Crown research institute climate agency Niwa has boosted its forecasting unit, building up a vigorous social media profile and employing extra meteorologists who predict and comment on approaching extreme or notable weather.

Niwa is spending $18 million upgrading its ultra-fast supercomputers. These not only generate climate-change projections and scenarios of the effects of natural events, but, according to Niwa's website, also produce "the six days of NiwaWeather forecasts that help you find the best time to do all the important things you want to do".


Others in the weather sector, including private forecasting companies WeatherWatch and Blue Skies Weather and Climate, are worried taxpayers are now having to fund competing government agencies and say the situation is unparalleled elsewhere in the world.

There are concerns the public may be confused about who to listen to when severe weather is on the way and also about the struggle with Niwa and MetService to get access to what WeatherWatch and Blue Skies Weather say should be publicly available, "open", data.

Previous complaints about the double-up to former SOE minister Steven Joyce have been to no avail.

But Minister of Research, Science and Innovation Dr Megan Woods said she was going to look into the matter. "I do intend to look closely at this and speak to Niwa and MetService to ensure there isn't undue duplication of roles and effort."

Niwa did not want to comment on the minister's move.

However, MetService spokeswoman Jacqui Bridges said the SOE would be "happy to assist and collaborate" with Dr Woods.

Split services

• The NZ Meteorological Service was split into Niwa and the MetService in 1992.

• MetService, an SOE, has responsibility for weather forecasting. Niwa, a CRI, undertakes atmospheric and water research.


• MetService has about 250 staff and several subsidiary companies. Niwa has close to 600 staff, runs NiwaWeather, and oversees 13 national science centres and a handful of subsidiary companies.