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Media advisory – 17 March 2011

The effect of the Christchurch February earthquake on our work

Current situation

The February earthquake in Christchurch had a major effect on Statistics New Zealand information releases, following damage to the building in the city centre where many of our statistical releases are prepared and approximately 200 of our staff work.

However, we are making good progress in keeping our critical work on track. We’ve been able to release our top priority statistics on time and some of our Christchurch staff are now returning to work.

Since the earthquake, staff have been unable to enter the building that houses several critical systems. We are gradually bringing staff back in temporary offices and increasing the facilities to work from home. However we expect it will be some months before we return to full capacity.

Much of our work around business indicators like building consents, trade surveys, and manufacturing surveys are based in Christchurch, as is work on population measures like migration. Our ability to collect information from households and businesses in Christchurch has also been hampered.

The future

Because of these issues, we are prioritising production of our most important statistics. The information releases for Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Consumers Price Index (CPI), Balance of Payments (BOP), Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS), and population measures like migration are the top priorities.

GDP and BOP for the December quarter will be released on schedule next week, and CPI and HLFS have already been released.

The Wholesale Trade Survey and the Economic Survey of Manufacturing will be released on 28 and 29 March, after GDP and BOP. Manufacturing and wholesale trade data are used in GDP and would usually be published before it. Given the high priority on releasing BOP and GDP, we’ve used wholesale trade and manufacturing data for them. Due to resource constraints we’ve delayed publications of these surveys in their own right until after GDP.

We know our other statistical releases are valuable to people and will give as much notice as possible about any changes. The most up to date information is later in this advisory and on the release calendar on www.stats.govt.nz.

After this round of releases of December quarter data there are some longer term issues. In order to preserve the quality of our information, it is possible we may have to take more time collecting, analysing and validating data. This has and will continue to impact on future scheduled release dates.

We are working hard to assess and address all the implications of the earthquake on our statistics and return to our full publication schedule.

Statistics New Zealand suspended collections (including surveys, phone, and face-toface interviews) for the whole of the whole South Island for the first week following the earthquake. For the following week, no collection occurred in the Canterbury region. For the remaining four weeks of the March quarter, no collection is taking place in Christchurch city, or the Selwyn and Waimakariri districts. This will impact on the data collected for the next quarter’s releases, including HLFS and CPI.

We will advise users around each release how we are managing the resulting impact on our methodology.

Updated release calendar

Here is the revised release schedule for information releases until 1 April – we will release an extended calendar before then.

The information releases listed are published at 10:45am, with a media release.

M = Information release & media release, with media conference at Statistics House in Wellington. The conference room opens at 10am and the embargo lifts and journalists can leave at 10:45am.
P = Publication (online or print) other than an information release
T = Table update

Previously scheduled release  What   New release date
21 March International Travel and Migration: February 2011 Delayed, date to be advised
22 March Research and Development Survey: 2010 22 March as scheduled 
23 March P – International Visitor Arrivals: February 2011 Delayed, date to be advised 
23 March M – Balance of Payments and International Investment Position: December 2010 quarter 23 March as scheduled 
24 March M – Gross Domestic Product: December 2010 quarter. 24 March as scheduled
25 March Industry Productivity Statistics: 1978–2009 25 March as scheduled
7 March Wholesale Trade Survey: December 2010 quarter 28 March
8 March M – Economic Survey of Manufacturing: December 2010 quarter 29 March
29 March M – Overseas Merchandise Trade: February 2011 29 March as scheduled
30 March Screen Industry Survey: 2009/10 30 March as scheduled
30 March M – Building Consents Issued: February 2011 30 March as scheduled
1 April T – Recorded Crime Statistics: 2010 calendar year 1 April as scheduled
1 April StreetLink update: April 2011 Delayed, date to be advised

See the full Statistics New Zealand release calendar .

Geoff Bascand
Government Statistician  

17 March 2011
END

Please attribute any of the above information to Geoff Bascand, Government Statistician.

For media enquiries contact:
Colin Marshall, Senior Media Advisor, Strategic Communications
04 931 4630 or 021 285 9191
communication@stats.govt.nz
www.stats.govt.nz/media

Statistics New Zealand Media Centre

Visit our  Media Centre where you will find a list of all our releases and other relevant statistical information to assist you. We welcome feedback on this page. Email communication@stats.govt.nz

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