2023 Census period extended in cyclone affected regions

Statistics

The Government has confirmed the 2023 Census collection period will be extended in areas impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle.

“Census Day will go ahead on Tuesday 7 March but Cabinet has agreed to the recommendation of the Government Statistician to extend field operations by up to eight weeks in areas impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle,” Minister of Statistics Hon Dr Deborah Russell said.

“The areas most affected by the cyclone, including Hawke’s Bay, Northland and Tairāwhiti, are also among the communities that were underserved by the 2018 Census. This makes 2023 Census data even more critical as a source of information to support and guide the recovery in these regions.

Extending the collection period means up to 1700 Census collectors will have more time to reach the most affected communities, and ensures Stats NZ can still deliver the Census and produce quality and timely data, while not causing additional burden to people dealing with the aftermath of a major natural disaster.”

Census staff in the South Island have been out in the community since February 13, hand delivering census packs in some locations. Staff in the North Island were initially stood down in response to the cyclone but are now out in the field in areas where it is safe to do so.

“90 percent of the country is ready to do the Census but extending the collection period by up to eight weeks means that field collectors will have more time to reach affected communities that are currently inaccessible or partly accessible due to the impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle,” Dr Russell said.

The Government has already doubled the number of Census workers on the ground and increased the number of paper forms being delivered to ensure the 2023 Census is a success, after the 2018 Census was underfunded by the previous Government.

“We’ve also invested in initiatives that will make the Census more accessible for population groups that have faced significant barriers in the past, including assisted completion events, New Zealand Sign Language videos, audio, Braille, Easy Read, and paper forms in large print.

“Almost 600,000 Census forms have already been returned. If you want to do your Census now you can go to www.census.govt.nz and apply for an online access code for your household. It will be sent immediately to your mobile phone and you can do the Census as soon as you get it.

The majority of the country will now have now received their Census pack in the mail. Households will be able to fill out the Census as soon as they get their pack, with the option of doing this online or on paper if preferred,” Dr Russell said.”

Associate Minister of Statistics Meka Whaitiri said a new initiative to deliver iwi-led collections in the Far North, Bay of Plenty and Gisborne, remained a key part of the strategy to ensure the nationwide survey delivers quality data for Māori.

“The 2018 Census did not achieve a comprehensive population coverage for Māori and iwi-led collections will play a crucial role in ensuring the 2023 Census delivers increased response rates for Māori,” Meka Whaitiri said.

“Despite the devastation caused by Cyclone Gabrielle, iwi and communities on the ground have told us they want to continue census operations where it is safe and appropriate to do so.”

Under the Data and Statistics Act 2022, everyone living or staying in Aotearoa New Zealand on the night of Census Day, Tuesday 7 March 2023, is required to complete a census form.

This includes parents and caregivers completing census information for children and babies, as well as any former members of One Direction performing in Auckland that evening.