An online marriage of success

The Department of Internal Affairs serves and connects people, communities and government to build a safe, prosperous and respected New Zealand. The government organisation tracks, provides public information on, and manages the country’s births, deaths, passports, citizenship, and marriages. It is also responsible for censorship enforcement and the administration and enforcement of gambling law.

The Challenge

Applying to become a celebrant in New Zealand was a paper-based process that resulted in a significant manual overhead for the Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM) team. Prior to Celebrants Online, an applicant would need to fill out a large paper form, attach multiple support letters and documentation, and then send this off to BDM in the post. Once received, this application would be transcribed into the Lotus Notes system by a staff member. All emails and communications had to be done manually.

One of the particular pain points for BDM was during the celebrant yearly renewal period, where thousands of renewal applications were received within a short time frame, presenting a need for temporary workers.

The Datacom Difference

We implemented a system so that potential celebrants could apply, renew, and update their details online. Using an Agile MVP approach, the web application was built as a joint Datacom/DIA team, with weekly demonstrations to, and feedback from the wider business.

To keep costs down, get the project done more quickly and deliver a superior solution than would otherwise have been possible, we built upon the capability available in Amazon Web Services. The solution also used RealMe, the Department of Internal Affairs’ identity management service which was also built in conjunction with Datacom. 

The project was so successful that AWS, supported by the Department of Internal Affairs, have nominated us for an award at their upcoming partner summit.


Now, thousands of marriage celebrants are now renewing their licenses and hundreds of new celebrants are applying for a license online every year. All 10,000+ celebrants are able to be more efficiently managed by BDMCAT staff.

  • In 2016, 70% of license renewals have been completed online
  • The administration of almost 3000 religious celebrants is now being managed using the online service
  • Basic changes to celebrant details can now be made online, eliminating phone calls and emails to BDMCAT - 130 requests have been lodged since early this year

“Moving 5000 marriage celebrants online is an important step in modernising New Zealand’s marriage processes. We were thrilled to work with Datacom to deliver a truly exceptional experience for those wanting to apply to become a celebrant or renew their annual licence. By using AWS and their RealMe verified identity celebrants can now manage all their licencing processes online – applying, attaching documents, amending contact details and even uploading their photo to our public facing website. Processing and approval of applications is fully digital, with connections to 40 locations across New Zealand.”

Jeff Montgomery, Registrar-General, Births, Deaths, Marriages and Citizenship