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2013 Census community stories

Statistics shape many of the decisions that affect our lives. The census is the only survey in New Zealand that covers all of the population and provides the most complete picture of life in our cities, towns, suburbs and rural areas.

How you can use census information

The census is how we find out about who makes up our communities. From the census, we can get information about older New Zealanders, youth and children. We can look at the differences in the lives of men and women, or find out how our local town or district is unique. Comparing census information over time shows planners how the country is changing and allows them to forecast how it will change in the future.

Census statistics help develop policies and inform decision making, such as those on funding for schools, hospitals, social services and police. They also help businesses, and council and community organisations decide where to locate their services and what services to offer. Census information is also used to establish electoral boundaries for local and central government.


Community Languages Collection Management Policy Implementation – Auckland City Council (Libraries)

Auckland is the gateway to New Zealand for new migrants, and many of these new arrivals settle into local communities within the Auckland region. Adapting to life in a new country is a challenge and the support of other migrants who share your culture and language can be an important part of the settlement process.

The Auckland Council realised that residents needed easy access to books and other media in their native languages, but materials were spread across the region. The amalgamation of Auckland Libraries was an ideal opportunity to redistribute resources to communities based on local needs. Using data about languages spoken from the 2013 Census, the council identified specific language locations and matched their library collection with community libraries in the region.

As a result, many community language collections were moved to other locations. This benefited the customers, especially older migrants who may not have access to the internet. Now people can go to their local library to browse the shelves for books, magazines, and CDs in their native languages.

Here’s a snapshot of four common languages spoken across Auckland. This census data was put to good use – Korean language books are now based in northern and central libraries, whereas Samoan books are found mainly in southern Auckland libraries.


Auckland Libraries

Over the summer holidays, children take a break and enjoy a change of routine away from school. The downside is that when they return to school in the new year, pupils and teachers often need to spend time catching up.

Auckland Libraries decided they could help children’s learning and increase their love of reading and libraries by providing free access to activities and resources over the school holidays. They developed a bilingual summer reading programme – Kia Māia te Whai / Dare to Explore. For six weeks each summer, primary school pupils around Auckland take part in a series of challenges designed to make reading fun.

Information from the census played a key role in developing this initiative. Auckland Libraries cover a large geographical area, and information about the number of primary school-age children was essential when planning which areas of Auckland to target. Census data provided the council with valuable information about local children. They looked at what languages are spoken at home and how many children in the area come from a particular cultural background. They wanted to know about the make-up of local communities so they could develop fun activities and interesting resources that would encourage children to keep coming to the programme over the summer.

Census data can also be used to evaluate whether a programme is meeting the needs of the community. For example, Auckland Council wanted to see if the programme was reaching Māori and Pasifika families, so they compared the percentage of different ethnic groups attending the programme with ethnic group data from the census.

The success of the programme was evident by the positive comments made by parents, who said it had maintained or improved their children’s reading skills while beating the boredom of the long summer break.

Splice – Connecting communities

Splice is an organisation that is working to help join the threads of the Auckland city centre community together. Connecting all of these different cultures and communities poses some challenges in an area that is primarily a place of commerce and where many people live in apartment buildings.

Research conducted by Auckland University of Technology in 2012 highlighted a number of issues, with isolation being of particular concern to the local Chinese community (the second largest ethnic group in the city centre).

A spate of safety incidents involving the Chinese community in the city centre led to questions about whether it was really a place where migrants felt welcome. In light of this, Splice embarked on a process of engagement with this community.

While Splice was aware there was a large Chinese population in the city centre, they used census data to obtain a much clearer picture of age, sex, length of time in the neighbourhood, employment status, how many were studying, if the community were renters or owner-occupiers, and whether there were specific areas where the Chinese population were choosing to live.

The process of engagement, welcome, understanding, and inclusion with the Chinese population living in the Auckland city centre is ongoing. To date, there has been a Christmas Dinner, the support of a weekly meet-up for older Chinese people, and the establishment of a ‘We Chat’ group using social media. A collaborative, cross-cultural mural by Chinese and other city centre residents is planned for 2018, focusing on the themes of migration, welcome, and building a sense of belonging.

These efforts are already proving successful, with an increase in members of the Chinese community attending Splice events not specifically targeted at them. The ability to cross the language divide continues to be a barrier in Splice’s engagements, however, with the social media vehicle of WeChat and an increasing pool of bilingual ‘Splicers’ willing to help translate, the prospects of future engagement and community-building are bright.

Visit the Splice website to find out more.


Hamilton City Council

Hamilton City Council’s community profiles provide a snapshot of the city’s communities. Using 2013 Census data, along with their 2014 community profile survey, the council built up a picture of each of the 11 geographical areas of the city, as well as an ethnic profile of the city as a whole.

The community profile survey asked residents about their experiences of living in Hamilton and their views on social services and public facilities in their area. The council were very interested to learn what services the public believed were lacking in the community, and local organisations are able to use the profiles for planning community projects. Profiles were used to support funding applications.

The census is the only source of detailed demographics and statistics at a local level, and census data was used to add key information to the profiles. For example, the survey asked residents what they thought about the quality of housing in the city, the availability of homes, and the cost of rentals. Census data provides information about things like what kinds of heating people use, how much rent they pay each week, and how many people live in each house.

The profiles have been well used by the community for planning events and understanding community needs. The council plans to update the profiles after the 2018 Census.

Bay of Plenty

Ōpōtiki District Council – Community Driver Mentoring Programme

There is evidence from regional leaders in Ōpōtiki that the financial cost, logistical complexity, and geographic travel required to successfully gain a driver’s licence is a significant obstacle for some residents in Ōpōtiki. New Zealand Police have reported that the incidence of never-licensed drivers is comparatively high in the region, and that there are skill gaps with some younger drivers that are exacerbated by complex driving conditions on rural roads.

According to the 2013 Census data, the most common means of travel to work for people in the Ōpōtiki District was driving a private car, truck, or van, with 63.9% of people who travelled to work using this form of transport. Other census data, such as employment and education statistics, were used to inform strategic assessment and to build a picture of deprivation that needed to be addressed in the district.

As a result of the business case the community driver mentoring programme (CDMP) was introduced. This programme is run by the NZ Transport Agency across the country, and is proving to be a very successful way for the community to assist people who are otherwise struggling to progress through the graduated driver licensing programme. In Ōpōtiki, it’s also key to opening up job opportunities in the region, particularly with the current construction of the Ōpōtiki Harbour Transformation Project which will bring with it new jobs, many of which will require a driver’s licence.

Western Bay of Plenty Council – A Healthy Whare Project

Maketu is a small coastal town located on Okurei Point, also known as Town Point. The population is predominantly Māori from Ngāti Whakaue of Te Arawa Iwi. The Healthy Whare project was introduced to improve housing conditions in Maketu, in order to enhance the health, safety, and well-being of the community.

A range of census data was used to identify the needs of the Maketu community and to articulate some of the benefits of a project like this. The data used included total personal income, total household income, housing tenure, employment status, and education level.

The initiative has proven very successful and has supported over 80 whānau to improve their dwellings. The project has also had a number of positive effects on the larger community, such as people taking more pride in the appearance of their properties and participating in DIY workshops to learn how to make their homes warmer and drier. Overall, the housing stock of the Maketu community is now of a much higher standard.

Western Bay of Plenty District Council – Migrant inclusion in civic processes

The 2013 Census data detailing the migrant populations of Katikati, and particularly Te Puke, came as a real wake-up call to the Western Bay of Plenty District Council and community boards across the region.

Although it was well known that migrant populations were working in the region’s horticulture industry, census data highlighted the significance of these populations in Te Puke. Asian people made up of 15 percent of the total population (most from India) and 4 percent were Pacific people, making a total migrant population of 19 percent. Census data for the main ethnic groups was examined in order to determine which groups held the highest representation in terms of numbers. The statistics led to conversations around inclusion, representation, and the influence of these communities.

As a result, Western Bay of Plenty District Council has been working in partnership with the neighbouring Tauranga City Council to conduct interviews with every migrant community of reasonable size, establishing relationships and building networks and communication streams.

The councils have also been working with the Citizens Advice Bureau and the Migrant Support Network to communicate with migrants over issues of significance, such as understanding how to effect change at the local government level.

Consequently, the council has been able to assist with events run by migrant communities, such as Vanuatu Independence Day celebrations, a Nepalese earthquake relief dinner, a Nepalese national soccer tournament, and a Sikh public ‘Living in Harmony’ evening.


Supporting decision making on community sport and recreation

To develop and maintain a world-leading community sport system in New Zealand, the community sport sector needs a comprehensive understanding of New Zealanders and their participation in sport and active recreation.

Sport New Zealand has developed the Insights Tool to help the sector achieve this. It was launched in July 2016 and provides regional information about who participates in sport and recreation, and how they participate.

The Insights Tool draws on population counts, sex, ethnicity, and household types from census data. Graphs produced using this data allow users to easily see how population density varies across regions and where clusters of people are located. Census data is also used for modelling sport and recreation data from Sport New Zealand’s Active New Zealand survey, to produce information on activity behaviours and preferences at the local-population level.

The Insights Tool provides the community sport sector with better access to reliable, relevant data for decision making. Regional and national sports organisations, funding bodies, facilities planners, territorial authorities, and government agencies use this tool to determine where to invest resources for the greatest benefit to the community and participants. The tool’s uses include creating profiles for regions and key population groups, developing a better understanding of participants, planning regional sport and active recreation, planning facilities, and planning for future demand.
Work on refining and improving the Insights Tool is continuing.


Ashburton District Council – Start with a Smile campaign

Ashburton District Council’s Start with a Smile campaign has helped to build a more welcoming environment and better quality of life for newcomers to the district. The aim of the campaign was to help people moving to the district feel at home in Canterbury.

From 2007 to 2014, at least 100 permanent and long-term migrants each year chose to move to Ashburton. In 2015 and 2016, this number increased to more than 150 people a year.

The aim of the campaign was to get local people to share a smile and talk with others in their community, particularly those who may be new to the district. The campaign attracted the attention of a number of high profile New Zealanders and many famous faces got involved by sitting on the blue ‘Smile Couch’ and talking to people. Among them were musician Dave Dobbyn, then-Labour Party leader Andrew Little, and host of The Amazing Race Phil Keoghan.

In addition to surveys and focus groups, census data was used to assess demographic changes in the population using ethnic groups, years since arrival in New Zealand, and usual residence five years ago. This data helped to develop the most appropriate campaign. It was evident from the data that the population had changed considerably, with people moving to Ashburton from overseas as well as from other districts.

Ultimately the campaign has been successful. A 2017 survey conducted by the Ashburton District Council indicated that 60 percent of residents had spoken to someone new in their community in the month prior and 42 percent indicated that they had socialised with someone from another country. During the campaign, event facilitators reported that strangers were making plans to catch up for coffee, adding each other as friends on Facebook, and sharing advice and experiences.

Find out more about Ashburton’s Start with a Smile campaign.

Selwyn District Council – Summer in Selwyn Events Programme

Selwyn takes advantage of the better weather summer brings to run their summer events programme. The 2016/17 programme had more than 60 events, approximately twice the number of the previous summer’s programme. There was something for everyone, from picnics, pool parties, and family and music events, to youth-focused, library, and running events.

Census data on ethnic groups, income ranges, population, age, and sex was used to ensure that the events and activities catered for the demographics of the individual communities in the Selwyn district. In particular, this data highlighted a need, and created a desire, to celebrate Selwyn’s growing diversity, which council staff used to develop CultureFest in partnership with local community groups.

The ‘Meet your Street’ event gave those who were new to the area the opportunity to engage with their new community. Organised events were set up in various areas, with the council also providing small grants to allow people to run events in their communities.

In addition to the fun had and better-connected communities, the events also raised awareness of council facilities.

The Summer in Selwyn events promote active and healthy lifestyles and help make Selwyn a great place to live, work, and play.


Waitaki District Council – First retirement village in Oamaru

With the ageing population of New Zealand increasing, particularly in Oamaru, providing services for people aged 65 and over is vital.

Observatory Hill Retirement Village will provide crucial accommodation for a growing number of elderly residents in the Waitaki district. The profits from the retirement village are being put to good use and will be used to improve health services in Waitaki, providing further benefits to the community.

2013 Census data highlighted the fact that the Waitaki district, of which Oamaru is the largest town, has a significantly higher proportion of people aged 65 and over than the national average, with 20 percent of the total population in this group compared with the national average of 12 percent. Perhaps even more significantly, the number of people in this group in the region is projected to increase by 73 percent from 2011 to 2036.

Construction of Observatory Hill Retirement Village commenced in 2016. The retirement village will include a rest home, apartments, and villas.

The closure of Oamaru’s Rendell on Reed rest home has emphasised the importance of Observatory Hill, with the first stage of the new retirement village incorporating 41 rest home care beds to cater for the majority of Rendell on Reed residents who wish to move there.

Improving health and social services in Milton

For people living in Milton, difficulties and delays with accessing health and social services have meant that minor issues have sometimes developed into major problems. Milton lacked space for visiting health and social services, and services like Plunket, the Salvation Army Family Services, and Budget Advice were not available locally or only available on an occasional basis.

In response to this, the Milton Community Health Trust used census data to identify community needs and support funding requests for developing the Tokomairiro Community Hub and employing a hub coordinator, social worker, and community development worker. A Facebook page lets people know what’s happening in the community. The Hub provides space for visiting health and social services, and members of the public can drop in to seek assistance or advice.

The 2013 Census data provided compelling evidence for funders of the Tokomairiro Community Hub, showing that Milton is one of the few areas in the Clutha District where the population has been growing. The census data also revealed differences between the Milton community and other communities in Clutha. Milton has higher percentages of Māori, people aged under 15 years or over 65 years, and low-income households, and has fewer professionals than other areas of Clutha.

Establishing a Community Hub has had benefits for a wide range of people in the Milton community. Employing a coordinator has improved access to services, with members of the public now aware of where they can go for help. Greater access to services in the Milton area has improved accessibility for those on lower incomes by reducing the need to travel. Access to out-of-town services has also improved, with the social worker and hub coordinator providing assistance with transport.

Published 4 October 2017

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