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UPDATE / Dec 5, 11.30am: The Companies Office site is now back online.
"The performance issues with some MBIE websites experienced yesterday and this morning resulted from a content change that had unforeseen consequences and led to a significant increase in page requests, putting stress on the system," MBIE says in a statement.
"The change has now been corrected and the websites are running smoothly. We apologise for any inconvenience caused to users.
"The content change on the Companies Office website moved the search field of the companies database to a new location on the page.
"The original location of the search field remained in the existing position but searched the entire website. By default users continued to use the old search location which created an unanticipated level of requests on the website, leading to the performance issues."
UPDATE / Dec 5, 9am: Problems with the Companies Office website have continued into a second day.
The site's home page is loading today, but a company search cannot be executed.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and to name the IT suppliers involved.
But an error message that displays when a company search is run says: "Site is temporarily unavailable. It is expected to be operational again by Wednesday 05 December 2012 - 10:00 am (NZDT)."
A number of other MBIE websites are also offline first thing this morning, including the Financial Service Providers Register and the Personal Property Securities Register (which, like the Companies Office page, will load, but not work when you try to find information).
UPDATE / Dec 4, 4.45pm: An MBIE spokesman says "We are still experiencing performance issues with some of our MBIE websites and are working with our suppliers to resolve the issues as quickly as possible."
The "Hello Word" message was a server default, the spokesman said. NBR suggests a more meaningful default message.
Dec 4, 12pm: It's all a little Twilight Zone on the Companies Office website this morning.
A reader sent NBR a screen shot of www.companiesoffice.govt.nz that displayed nothing but the message: "Hello world."
The site usually redirects to www.business.govt.nz/companies, whose home page occasionally loads, very slowly, but without any company search functionality.
A spokesman for the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) said there was no immediate explanation.
The site has been misbehaving since at least 11.30am, and was still refusing company searches at 3.45pm.
MBIE spokesman Britton Broun told NBR at 1.05pm:
“We are experiencing performance issues with some MBIE websites, including the Companies Office website. The sites are still operational but online transactions cannot be performed at this stage. We are looking into the problems and hope to resolve it shortly.
“Hello World is a default message that can come up in certain situations when there are issues with a website. This is a standard message and is not suspicious.”
Silly and uninformative, yes.