Transforming the New Zealand census of population and dwellings: issues, options, and strategy

Population Census New Zealand

This report presents the issues on the development of a strategic direction and timeline for the transformation of the New Zealand Census of Population and Dwellings.
This development is part of Tomorrow’s Official Population and Social Statistics Programme.

1. The New Zealand Census of Population and Dwellings provides the official count of all people and dwellings in New Zealand and gives detailed socio-economic information at the community level. The population count recalibrates and improves the accuracy of all official population estimates and projections.
2. Census information determines the number, size, and boundaries of general and Māori electorates, enabling fair constituency representation. It is also used in reviewing electoral arrangements for local government. Census information underpins effective and efficient allocation of government funding; provides unique information for monitoring small populations and localities; and supports future planning at a national, regional and local level.
3. Although the cost of the New Zealand census compares favourably with other countries, increases in population size and per-unit cost have led to significant cost increases between consecutive five-year censuses. Questions have been raised on whether better value could be achieved by a change in the census model or frequency.
4. Internationally, a variety of approaches (models) are used to obtain census information. The approaches taken in each country continue to adapt and evolve in response to various drivers. Drivers of change include costs, quality of information, privacy concerns, technology, decreasing participation, availability of alternative information sources and the strong demand for more frequent information.

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