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Gearing up for the 2018 Census

The 2018 Census will be on Tuesday 6 March 2018, Statistics New Zealand announced today.

Government Statistician Liz MacPherson is encouraging everyone to go online to fill in their forms in the next census if they can.

“In 2018 you will be able to complete your census forms on a mobile phone as well as on tablets or desktops. We want to make it as easy as possible for everyone to fill in their forms online,” Ms MacPherson said.

“By collecting census data online, Statistics NZ can produce the census counts and other census information faster.”

Paper census forms will still be available for anyone who wants to use them.

“Planning for the 2018 Census is well underway. Next week, we’ll be testing new and changed questions with a sample of households and an online reference group to help us decide if they are ready to be included in the next census.”

“We want the census questions to reflect the important information needs of New Zealand. Throughout our planning for 2018, we’re making sure we can gather robust, independent information that will inform decision-making and contribute real value to the country.”

“We’re committed to ensuring that decision-makers have access to quality information. The census provides a wealth of information for the country to help make decisions about where services are needed and to understand more about the people who live in New Zealand.”


For media enquiries contact: Nancy Linton, Senior Communications Adviser, 2018 Census, 021 710 430,

Authorised by Liz MacPherson, Government Statistician, 1 July 2016

More information

What is the census?

The census is an official count of how many people are in New Zealand. It's a snapshot of the people who live here and the places they call home. The data collected is used to inform important decisions, including where to spend taxpayers’ money on services like schools and hospitals.

How much does the census cost?

The funding for the 2018 Census is spread over five years, totaling $119 million. The funding started on 1 July 2014. While additional costs are involved in setting up the new collection model for 2018, we are anticipating a saving over two census cycles, as the tools and systems we are building for 2018 can be used again for the next census.

What questions are you testing next week?

Based on our consultation and engagement with people and organisations who use census data, we are testing new and changed questions on a variety of new topics, including housing quality (whether people have damp or mould in their homes), how people travel to work or education, and their sexual orientation.

Before we can make a final decision on whether to include new and changed questions in the 2018 Census, we want to make sure we have thoroughly tested them. We’re testing if the questions are easy for people to understand and complete, and enable us to gather high-quality information.

Who is involved in the test?

We’re working with Auckland Council to test our new online forms through the People’s Panel, a group of 25,000 residents in Auckland.

We’re also testing our paper forms with about 8,000 households across New Zealand. This sample is randomly generated and does not include households in Auckland, because our online test is focused on people who live in the Auckland region.

Will you still have paper forms available in 2018?

Yes, paper forms will be available for people who would prefer them. For this test, however, we have split the sample groups – one group will test our online forms, the other group will test our paper forms.

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