The development of a minimum diabetes dataset (MDD) for monitoring diabetes in New Zealand was intended to facilitate diabetes quality initiatives. Existing published datasets were reviewed and a draft MDD for New Zealand was distributed to all 147 specialist, general practice and relevant community groups. Data definitions were either identical or compatible with other datasets and dataset items included if there were at least six supportive replies. All groups were followed up by letter and telephone. A total of 26 (18%) replies were received. Comments were reviewed and the recommended MDD finalised. There was agreement that this dataset would be embedded into the software of at least three commercially available patient management systems. In conclusion, developling an agreed national MDD was difficult, in spite of its potential utility for local, regional and national collation of diabetes data allowing those involved to generate a picture of diabetes and its outcomes.