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Nationwide conversation about 2018 Census kicks off – media release

For the first time, New Zealanders are being encouraged to go online to say what they think should be asked in the next census, with a new online discussion forum on the Statistics NZ website.

The six-week discussion forum has been set up as part of wider consultation on the content of the 2018 New Zealand Census of Population and Dwellings.

Census General Manager Denise McGregor says it is the first time Statistics NZ has engaged online about the census with the public.

“We know New Zealanders really care about what’s asked in the census, and the information they can get from it. This is part of a comprehensive review of the census, including how previous questions performed, a stocktake of what the data is used for, who uses it, and considering international trends.

“People can get in and respond to our initial recommendations and thinking, share their views, and discuss issues that matter to them with other Kiwis.”

Statistics NZ will be facilitating discussions, and will analyse emerging themes to help with making decisions on 2018 Census content. Factors such as statistical quality, and the length and complexity of the questionnaire will be taken into account before making any changes.

“The census needs to reflect the changing nature of society, and we have to balance that with being able to compare data over time and track trends."

Statistics NZ is using the online forum to encourage a wide range of people to talk about the census ahead of the formal submission period.

“We will listen to suggestions raised in the online forums, but the best opportunity to influence census content is still to make a formal submission,” Denise McGregor said.

2018 Census has information about how to join the discussion or make a formal submission. The online discussion forum will be live until 10 June. People can make a formal submission from 18 May until 30 June.

Following consultation, Statistics NZ will analyse the submissions, and aims to confirm final content in early 2017 for the 2018 Census.


For media enquiries contact: Colin Marshall, Wellington 04 931 4600,

Authorised by Liz MacPherson, Government Statistician, 30 April 2015

About the census

The New Zealand Census of Population and Dwellings is the official count of how many people and dwellings there are in New Zealand. It takes a snapshot of the people in New Zealand and the places where we live.

Information from the census helps determine how government funding is spent in the community. It is used to help make decisions about which services are needed and where they should be, such as hospitals, kōhanga reo, schools, roads, public transport, and recreational facilities. Census information is also used by councils, community groups, iwi, and businesses to plan for the future, and make decisions on issues that affect us all.

The census is currently held every five years, with the last census delayed until 2013 after the Christchurch earthquake in 2011.

Statistics NZ is modernising the census in 2018. A key feature is encouraging self-response using online forms. Completing the census form online will be secure, quick, and easy. Most people will be able to complete the forms themselves without the need for a visit from a census collector. Paper forms will still be available for those who prefer them.

In parallel with planning for the 2018 Census, the Census Transformation programme is investigating different ways of running the census. Its purpose is to investigate alternative ways of producing small-area population and socio-demographic statistics in the long term. This includes the possibility of changing the census frequency to every 10 years, and exploring the feasibility of a census based on administrative data.

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