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Topics to be included in the 2018 Census

This chapter outlines the topics that will be included in the 2018 Census. The topics are grouped into broad topic areas. The issues raised during consultation are discussed under each topic.

This section indicates the degree of change for each topic since the last census. These changes relate to the content of the census only. Other changes may have been made to improve data quality and are mentioned within each topic but are not the focus of this report.

The broad topic areas are: 

Population structure

The following topics are included in this broad topic area:

  • Absentees
  • Age
  • Legally registered relationship status
  • Name
  • Number of children born
  • Number of occupants on census night
  • Partnership status in current relationship
  • Sex

Absentees

This topic will be included in 2018 with no change.

Information on absentees (ie people who were temporarily absent from their usual residence) is not required under the Statistics Act 1975, but does provide essential data in terms of ensuring the accuracy of population counts. Absentee data is needed for collection purposes and for deriving family and household composition, and is an important input for population estimates.

No issues were raised for this topic during consultation.

Age

This topic will be included in 2018 with no change.

There is a statutory requirement under the Statistics Act 1975 for the census to collect age data (date of birth). Age is a key topic for analysis and is one of the most commonly used census topics. Age provides (either directly or indirectly via population estimates) the base topic for many derived series. Age, along with other key demographic topics, helps form the cornerstone of population outputs.

The only issue raised in consultation for this topic was about the age brackets (categories) being output. In particular, it was suggested that the 65 years and over age bracket currently output is not sufficient. Someone who is 65 years old has very different needs to someone who is 85 years old so it is essential to break this age group down in order to help community planning. This is not an issue for the inclusion of age in the 2018 Census. We will consider it when we output the results following the census.

Legally registered relationship status

This topic will be included in 2018 with no change.

Legally registered relationship status provides valuable information on how society is structured and allows analysis and understanding of family size and changes in family structures. Therefore, along with fertility data, this information indirectly contributes to the quality of population projections and our understanding of present and future society.

During the submission and consultation period we asked for more information on whether legally registered relationship status still needs to be collected in the census. The feedback received indicated that it is still important to collect as it is associated with many health and social outcomes and, along with partnership status in current relationship, plays a key role in understanding couple relationships, family and household composition, and step-families. It was also noted that data on legally registered relationship status is used for modelling purposes and to derive nuptial and ex-nuptial birth rates. Additionally, the information is needed to check the data quality of the family and household topics.

Name

This topic will be included in 2018 with no change.

Collecting name is a statutory requirement under the Statistics Act 1975.

Information on name helps to ensure that the count of the New Zealand population and its families and households is accurate, so name is very important for ensuring the overall quality of the census data. In the collection phase name is used along with addresses to ensure that everyone has completed a census form. During processing, name is used to help determine family and household structures. Another use of name information is for post-censal surveys, such as Te Kupenga (which is a survey of Māori well-being) and the Post-enumeration Survey.

No issues were raised for this topic during consultation.

Number of children born

This topic will be included in 2018 with minor change. The word ‘alive’ has been removed from the tick box so that it does not exclude stillbirths.

Number of children born has often been a cyclical topic but we have included it in the last two censuses. Given rapid changes in fertility behaviour with large-scale international migration, it was thought that the topic should be included every five years, rather than every 10.

The topic has important policy and research value. Fertility is a key component of population growth, and data on fertility is used to improve the quality of population projections. It contributes indirectly to our understanding of present and future population structure, as childbearing changes over time are central to analysis of population change. The data allows users to understand the flow-on implications of an ageing population.

Its inclusion in the census gives us more socio-demographic detail and different types of information (eg overall reproductive history and childlessness) than is available elsewhere. This is the only source of information on women who have not had children; childlessness is an important area of policy interest.

Preliminary view of 2018 Census content stated more information was required for inclusion of this topic. Its inclusion was strongly supported during consultation. Information on childlessness and the inclusion of the topic every five years was important for policymakers.

We are making one minor change to this topic. We’ve removed the word ‘alive’ from the mark-in box so that it does not exclude stillbirths. We’ve made this change as a response to feedback received from some special interest groups who have expressed concern about the sensitivity of this prompt.

We expect the removal of the word ‘alive’ to have minimal impact on the data due to the low number of stillbirths in New Zealand.

Number of occupants on census night

This topic will be included in 2018 with no change.

Number of occupants on census night is a statutory requirement under the Statistics Act 1975. This information is used to ensure that the correct number of individual forms is received from each household. This topic is also valuable for improving the accuracy of family and household statistics.

No issues were raised for this topic during consultation.

Partnership status in current relationship

This topic will be included in 2018 with no change.

Partnership status in current relationship provides valuable information (as with legally registered relationship status) on how our society is structured and allows analysis and understanding of family size and changes in family structures.

Sex

This topic will be included in 2018 with no change.

Collecting data on sex is a legal requirement under the Statistics Act 1975. Sex is the distinction between males and females based on their biological differences in sexual characteristics. It is a fundamental demographic characteristic used in social and population analysis.

We stated in Preliminary view of 2018 Census content that we would test collecting information from people who are biologically intersex, as they are unable to accurately represent their biological sex in a two-category question. The current statistical standard for sex allows for a third category of ‘indeterminate’ to be used in circumstances where a third category is required for individuals whose biological sex cannot be determined as male or female. This category is currently used within some administrative settings, but is not intended for use within self-administered surveys.

We tested several variations of a sex question with a third response option as part of our overall questionnaire development for the 2018 Census. We conducted initial cognitive testing with respondents within the intersex community, followed by cognitive testing with general respondents. The terms ‘indeterminate’ and ‘intersex’ were both tested, and there was no consensus over the preferred term to be used. We tested sex questions with three response options in two public tests – with ‘indeterminate’ in the July 2016 Census Test and ‘intersex’ in the April 2017 Census Test.

Cognitive testing indicated that the information we collected from the majority of respondents was of acceptable quality. However, the results from the public tests indicated that the data for the third category was of very low quality and would not be suitable for output. It included facetious responses and responses made in error. Given the very low prevalence of the intersex population, the test results indicated that inaccurate responses for a third category would be as common as – or outnumber – legitimate responses for this category.

Our testing therefore indicated that including a third category for the sex question in the 2018 Census would not enable us to produce accurate information on the population of interest. Given this issue, and the importance of the distinction between males and females for social and population analysis, we are not including a third category for sex in the 2018 Census.

However, we recognise the ongoing issue of intersex respondents being unable to respond to a two-category sex question, and the interest in accurate counts of the intersex population. We’re currently considering alternative methods for the intersex population to answer this question in the 2018 Census. We are also committed to further investigating this important but complex topic within the wider OSS.

Location

The following topics are included in this broad topic area:

  • Address of dwelling
  • Address on census night
  • Usual residence
  • Usual residence one year ago
  • Usual residence five years ago
  • Years at usual residence

Address of dwelling and address on census night

These topics will be included in 2018 with no change.

There is a statutory requirement under the Statistics Act 1975 for the census to collect both address on census night and address of dwelling. Dwelling address is the primary piece of information used to ensure that every dwelling is counted and counted only once.

No issues were raised for these topics during consultation.

Usual residence

This topic will be included in 2018 with no change.

While there is no legal requirement under the Statistics Act 1975 to collect usual residence data, the Electoral Act 1993 requires the derivation of usually resident based electoral populations for the revision of electoral boundaries. This topic provides the only means of distinguishing between New Zealand residents and overseas visitors, and those usually living in an area or just present there on census night. Usual residence is an important measure for population outputs and provides a base for national and subnational population estimates and projections.

During engagement and consultation, there was some concern about the use of the term ‘resident’ in the guide notes. This term can cause confusion for migrants who do not have official residency in New Zealand and therefore do not answer the question. We’ve now removed the term ‘resident’ from the guide notes.

Usual residence one year ago and usual residence five years ago

Usual residence one year ago will be included in 2018. It was last included in the census in 1981.

Usual residence five years ago will not be included as a question in 2018. However, the information will still be produced using a combination of census and administrative data.

Usual residence one year ago provides information on the characteristics of internal migrants, and the propensity for people to change residence (population mobility). Usual residence five years ago also gives information on internal migration, by estimating inter-censal population change.

Population estimates are a key census output and underpin many key government decisions. New Zealand has high external (international) and internal migration rates by international standards. We require accurate estimates of internal migration to produce accurate population estimates. An increase in population mobility over time has led to a need for information on usual residence one year ago to be collected in the census, as well as usual residence five years ago, to produce accurate population estimates.

In Preliminary view of 2018 Census content, we recommended including usual residence one year ago in addition to usual residence five years ago. This was supported by key stakeholders who use information on internal migration. It was acknowledged that the recommended additions of usual residence one year ago, second residence, and educational institute address would result in a large number of address questions on the 2018 Census forms.

Consultation with stakeholders indicated that while both topics hold distinct value, information on usual residence one year ago was critical for producing accurate population estimates. Cognitive testing confirmed that the increase in address questions was burdensome for respondents, particularly on the paper form where the form design and routing between questions had both become more complex. As a result, it was recommended that only one question on internal migration would be feasible to include on the 2018 Census forms. Usual residence one year ago will therefore replace usual residence five years ago on the 2018 Census form.

However, information on usual residence five years ago can be produced from a combination of information collected on the 2018 Census form, 2013 Census data, and administrative data. The proposed collection of data on usual residence one year ago and existing data on usual residence five years ago should provide better information on internal migration with minimal impact on data quality and lower respondent burden.

Years at usual residence

This topic will be included in 2018 with no change.

Years at usual residence is an important census topic for assessing population mobility. As part of the topic of internal migration, it is used in many policy formulation, planning, monitoring, and research activities at the sub-national level.

However, the suggested inclusion of usual residence one year ago and five years ago in Preliminary view of 2018 Census content meant that having data on years at usual residence would become lower priority. We asked for more information before recommending inclusion.

Most submitters favoured retaining years at usual residence. This topic provides information on population mobility and internal and external migration. This helps to support long-term planning and is used by councils at a low level of geography. Years at usual residence also provides a longer term view on mobility than usual residence one and five years ago.

Ethnicity and culture

The following topics are included in this broad topic area:

  • Birthplace
  • Ethnicity
  • Iwi affiliation
  • Languages spoken
  • Māori descent
  • Religious affiliation
  • Years since arrival in New Zealand

Birthplace

This topic will be included in 2018 with no change.

Data on birthplace (country of birth) is used to develop, monitor, and evaluate settlement programmes for immigrants, and analyse their socio-economic and demographic characteristics. It is widely used by government agencies and researchers and is of considerable interest to immigrant groups themselves. Birthplace data is of particular importance given increases in immigration to New Zealand in recent years and the growing significance of immigration as a social issue.

We recommended birthplace for inclusion with no change in Preliminary view of 2018 Census content. One submitter thought we should collect more specific information on birthplace, such as the region or territorial authority. They suggested this information would allow a better understanding of internal migration and improved population estimates. However, the collection of this information was viewed as less important than other potential additions to internal migration data, such as usual residence one year ago (which is being collected in 2018) and second address (which is not being collected in 2018).

Ethnicity

This topic will be included in 2018 with no change.

There is a statutory requirement under the Statistics Act 1975 for the census to collect ethnicity information. It is a basic socio-demographic topic and the data is used extensively by government agencies, non-government organisations, and individual ethnic groups. It is used to compile a wide range of demographic estimates and projections and to derive measures for monitoring the well-being of ethnic groups, particularly in the health sector (eg morbidity rates). The census is an important source of ethnicity data for small areas and small ethnic groups. The data is widely used with other characteristics of the population to inform research and policy development.

Nearly all submissions agreed with our preliminary view for no change to this topic for the 2018 Census. A few submissions stated interest in collecting more detail by prompting respondents to state specific ethnicities rather than mark broad categories, and that having broad ethnic groupings as response options was resulting in undercounts of some ethnic groups (eg Hong Kong Chinese).

The online engagement centred on the ‘New Zealander’ response. The majority of comments stated a dissatisfaction with the response options, claiming that they were insufficient and divisive. Many commenters felt that ‘New Zealand European’ was an inadequate description and wanted a ‘New Zealander’ response category. Others commented on the difference between national identity and ethnicity, and the value of the ethnicity data. In their view, less meaningful data would be the result if a ‘New Zealander’ response option was included.

‘New Zealander’ responses decreased from 10.9 percent to 1.6 percent between the 2006 and 2013 Censuses. It appears that the response rate is largely dependent on publicity around this topic. Most submissions favoured retaining the question as doing this will provide the data quality benefits of continuity and comparability over time. Ethnicity will therefore be included with no change.

Iwi affiliation

This topic will be included in 2018 with moderate change. We’ve reviewed the iwi classification and standard and additional iwi categories will be included within the 2018 iwi classification. This could affect iwi counts.

The census provides the most comprehensive source of information on the size and distribution of iwi populations.

The data is used to assist with Treaty of Waitangi claims and to allocate funds and resources to iwi. It also assists with economic and social planning by central and local government, and iwi.

We’ve reviewed the iwi classification and standard. Additional iwi will be included in the 2018 iwi classification. This will not affect the iwi affiliation question.

Languages spoken

This topic will be included in 2018 with no change.

Data on languages spoken is used to monitor knowledge of languages spoken by different groups. It can assist in understanding language change and the effect of government initiatives, such as the Government’s Māori language revitalisation programme. Local authorities use language information to determine what languages to provide services in.

Information on the use of New Zealand Sign Language is important for policy development and service planning for the deaf community.

There was agreement during engagement and consultation that this topic should be included with no change. One submitter suggested that information on language proficiency should also be collected but the census is not the best place to collect this information. A proficiency scale adds complexity and is subjective, and could discourage respondents from completing the form or lead to incorrect responses. Languages spoken has therefore been included with no change.

Māori descent

This topic will be included in 2018 with no change.

While there is no legal requirement under the Statistics Act 1975 to collect Māori descent data, the Electoral Act 1993 requires the derivation of Māori electoral populations, which are used to determine Māori electoral districts.

The census provides the most comprehensive source of information on the size and distribution of the Māori descent population. Based on feedback from key customers to investigate ways to improve data quality, Māori descent is now a priority one variable and must be answered.

Māori descent has been used as a filter question to collect information on iwi affiliation in every census since 1991.

Religious affiliation

This topic will be included in 2018 with moderate change. For 2018, information on all religious affiliations will be collected via a write-in box. This change in the question format may affect data comparability over time but may produce better-quality data on religious diversity.

Religious affiliation is used by religious, ethnic, and community organisations as well as researchers who monitor social changes in culture and identity in New Zealand. Although New Zealand society has become more secular over time, the number of religious groups has increased. Preliminary view of 2018 Census content recommended that this topic be included in the 2018 Census. Feedback from the consultation supported the continued inclusion of this topic.

In the 2018 Census, we are making changes to the question used to collect this information for several reasons. The question format used in the 2013 Census was designed for a two-column page design, but for 2018 the paper form has three columns on each page, so we had to make changes to the question layout. Also, feedback from stakeholders during the minor refresh of the Religious Affiliation Statistical Standard in 2017 indicated that some customers want more detailed information than provided by the response categories used in the 2013 Census. In the 2013 format, only respondents who indicated ‘Other religion’ or ‘Christian – other’ were asked to provide more detail on their religious affiliation.

As a result of the changes to the paper form design and the feedback received, we will collect religious affiliation information primarily through a write-in box for all respondents who indicate they have a religion. Although this change may affect comparisons over time for some religious groupings, it may produce better information on religious diversity across New Zealand.

Years since arrival in New Zealand

This topic will be included in 2018 with no change.

Years since arrival in New Zealand is an important census topic that provides information on the number of years that immigrants have been living in New Zealand and supplements the birthplace topic. Years since arrival in New Zealand has a number of uses, such as distinguishing recent immigrants from those who have lived in New Zealand for some time, monitoring changes in the characteristics of the immigrant population over time, and assisting in evaluating and developing immigration policies and programmes. It is used to develop, monitor, and evaluate settlement programmes for immigrants and to analyse their socio-economic status.

No issues were raised for this topic during consultation.

Education and training

The following topics are included in this broad topic area:

  • Field of study
  • Highest qualification
  • Highest secondary school qualification
  • Level of post-school qualification
  • Study participation

Field of study

This topic will be included in 2018 with no change.

Field of study information is combined with level of post-school qualification to identify potential skill gaps in the labour market and to plan education and training programmes. Data on field of study can also identify mismatches in the economy between people's skills and occupations. We don’t collect information on field of study in our other surveys.

No issues were raised for this topic during consultation.

Highest qualification

This topic will be included in 2018 with no change.

Highest qualification is produced by combining information on highest secondary school qualification and highest post-school qualification. This output topic gives an indicator of the level of overall educational attainment across New Zealand.

No issues were raised for this topic during consultation.

Highest secondary school qualification

This topic will be included in 2018 with no change.

Information on secondary school qualifications is collected in order to measure school achievement across New Zealand. While there is administrative data on school achievement through education records, collecting this information in the census allows school achievement to be cross-tabulated with other demographic and geographic topics collected in the census.

Highest secondary school qualification is also used, along with post-school qualification information collected, to derive the highest qualification topic.

The consultation on 2018 Census content indicated ongoing support and use for this information.

Level of post-school qualification

This topic will be included in 2018 with minor change. New information is being collected on whether the qualification was attained in New Zealand or overseas.

Information on the level of highest post-school qualifications is collected in order to measure qualification achievement across New Zealand. This information is combined with highest secondary school qualification to derive the highest qualification topic. It is also used in combination with field of study information.

One issue identified in previous censuses was the difficulty in coding post-school qualifications, due to the diversity of qualification titles, especially for those attained overseas. As a result, we have added a question to indicate whether the qualification was attained in New Zealand or overseas.

Study participation

This topic will be included in 2018 with moderate change. The subject population has changed. This information will now be collected for all usual residents, including pre-schoolers and school children aged under 15 years. Previously, the subject population for this question was those aged 15 years and over.

Study participation measures those attending, studying, or enrolled at a school or other place of education and whether they attend part-time or full-time. This information can be used with other topics to analyse demographic, social, and economic characteristics of New Zealand residents who are participating in education.

This topic will be included in the 2018 Census with a change in the subject population (by moving the position of the question on the form) to include all New Zealand usual residents. We’ve made this change so that information on travel to education and educational institution address can be collected from all New Zealand usual residents (see the transport section for more information).

We received several submissions about collecting information on industry training and we assessed them using the content determination framework. We concluded that collecting industry training in the census would be too difficult to define and there was not a strong enough information need identified from submitters.

Work

The following topics are included in this broad topic area:

  • Hours worked per week
  • Industry
  • Work and labour force status
  • Occupation
  • Sector of ownership
  • Status in employment
  • Workplace address
  • Unpaid activities

Paid work

These topics will be included in 2018 with no change.

This section includes information on hours worked per week, industry, work and labour force status, occupation, sector of ownership, status in employment, and workplace address.

Paid work information from the census is used extensively by a variety of organisations, from central and local government to community groups and businesses, to analyse the labour market position of population groups and small geographic areas. The data can be used to analyse occupation and industry composition; the size and characteristics of the labour market; the links between income, qualifications, and labour market outcomes; and to measure changes over time. Work and labour force status is also used as a broad indicator of socio-economic status.

While the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) is the official source of information about paid work in New Zealand, the census plays a key role in providing this information for population groups and small geographic areas. Such detailed information is not available from the HLFS because it is a sample survey with a limited capacity for disaggregation.

Unpaid activities

This topic will be included in 2018 with no change.

Information collected on unpaid activities in the census covers activities performed in the four weeks before the census date, without payment. This ranges from housework to unpaid care and voluntary work. This information provides indicative data on the nature of unpaid activities undertaken, as well as the characteristics and location of those involved.

Users of data in this area include central and local government, researchers, and non-governmental organisations. A key user of unpaid activities data is the Ministry for Women, to understand the difference in unpaid activities between men and women. There is broad interest in the voluntary work and care-giving components of this data. Time series comparisons of census data have been limited by frequent changes to question wording. It is generally agreed, however, that the current unpaid activities question meets the requirements of international standards. The categories in the question have been used since 2001.

Preliminary view of 2018 Census content did not recommend including a question on volunteering. The feedback we received during consultation highlighted the importance of continued collection of the unpaid activities topic, across the range of information collected, but in particular volunteering. As a result of this feedback, we tested a number of question formats to assess whether collecting more detailed information on volunteering was feasible on a self-completed questionnaire. The primary aspects tested were about collecting more detail on the types of volunteering undertaken and the hours spent over a recent time period. Testing indicated that collecting more detailed information on volunteering would not produce high-quality data. Respondents had many issues identifying what types of volunteering they had undertaken and difficulty recalling how much time they had spent.

Following the results of this testing, unpaid activities will be included in the format used in the 2013 Census in order to continue to meet the overall information requirements identified for this topic.

Income

The following topics are included in this broad topic area:

  • Sources of personal income
  • Total personal income

Sources of personal income

This topic will be included in 2018 with minor change. Jobseeker Support, Sole Parent Support, and Supported Living Payment benefits have replaced the Unemployment Benefit, Domestic Purposes Benefit, and the Invalid’s and Sickness Benefits. This change reflects updates by Work and Income New Zealand since the 2013 Census.

Sources of personal income is used with total personal income for planning, monitoring programmes, research, and to formulate social and economic policy. It is also used to derive sources of family income, sources of extended family income, and sources of household income, both by type and number of sources. Cross-tabulating income with sources of income gives a better indication of the socio-economic status and well-being of individuals, families, and households.

Our recommendation for this topic was to aggregate means-tested benefit categories into one category. This was to help respondents to answer the question, and reduce non-response. There were mixed views on this recommendation during engagement and consultation. Key data users disagreed with collapsing the benefit categories, reporting the use of lower level data for needs analysis, subnational reporting, and to understand demographic characteristics. Councils also use this information for community planning and understanding the requirements of their residents.

The outcome of the engagement and consultation process was the decision not to aggregate the benefit categories. We’ll include sources of personal income with no change.

Total personal income

This topic will be included in 2018 with no change.

Total personal income data, collected in the census using income bands, is used to derive total family income, total extended family income, total household income, and combined parental income for couples with children. Income bands are often cross-tabulated with other topics such as age, occupation, and education qualifications to provide information on the relationship between these topics.

The information helps to formulate social and economic policy and monitoring programmes, determine decile rankings for schools receiving government funding, and develop the New Zealand Deprivation Index.

In Preliminary view of 2018 Census content, we recommended that the income bands be reviewed and that ways of improving data quality be investigated. Changes to the income bands would mean increasing the top category and potentially the number (or size) of bands.

There was some support for the recommendation to review the income bands, but most submitters were happy with the current bands. Those who supported this recommendation also stressed the importance of comparability over time and of making sure that any changes still allowed the 2018 data to be compared with earlier data. We decided that there was not a sufficient information need to change the bands, so we will include this topic with no change.

Families and households

The following topics are included in this broad topic area:

  • Child dependency status
  • Extended families
  • Family type
  • Household composition

These topics will be included in 2018 with no change.

The existing range of family and household information will continue to be produced from the census. This includes child dependency status, extended families, family type, and household composition.

Family and household statistics are used extensively for formulating social policy, planning, monitoring programmes, and research. Census information about families is used for creating the New Zealand Deprivation Index and we use household and family data to derive household and family projections. Family and household data from the census can also provide information at the individual level as well as the family or household level. For example, data can be produced that shows the work and labour force status of parents in certain family types, or the ethnicity of people in extended families.

The consultation showed support for continuing to collect the existing information on families and households in the census. It was noted that the census is the only data source that allows the number and characteristics of people in different family types to be described.

Interest in information on grandparents in a parental role was expressed during consultation. This type of information is available as part of the existing range of family and household data that is produced. The information currently available on grandparents in a parental role covers situations where the children are under 15 years and their parents are not present in the household. It excludes situations involving children aged 15 years or over, or where the parents live in the same household but the grandparents are still the primary caregivers. This type of information is too complex to collect in a self-completed survey such as the census, and is better suited to an interviewer-based survey.

There was also interest during consultation in information on children in shared care who live at two homes. The proposed new second residence topic may have provided information on this, but we are not including second residence in the 2018 Census. We’ll reconsider collecting information on children in shared care for future censuses.

See Excluded topics for information on why we haven’t included second residence in the 2018 Census.

Housing

The following topics are included in this broad topic area:

  • Access to telecommunication systems
  • Dwelling counts – occupied, unoccupied, and under construction
  • Housing quality (access to basic amenities, dwelling dampness indicator, dwelling mould indicator)
  • Main types of heating
  • Number of rooms and number of bedrooms
  • Occupied dwelling type
  • Sector of landlord
  • Tenure of household and individual home ownership
  • Weekly rent paid by household

Access to telecommunication systems

This topic will be included in 2018 with minor change. The response option for fax will be removed.

Access to telecommunication systems is used to gather information about a range of communication systems and therefore various levels of access to flow-on services. Communication information is also used, in conjunction with other census topics, as a measure of social connectedness and contributes to measures such as the New Zealand Deprivation Index. We collected information on access to a telephone from the census from 1966 until 1981 and again in 1996. In 2001, we extended this topic to cover telecommunication systems, acknowledging technological advances in telecommunications.

Preliminary view of 2018 Census content recommended retaining this question in the dwelling form, but removing the fax category. The major theme of the engagement and consultation was an agreement that access to fax information is becoming obsolete, and therefore unnecessary to collect.

Many submitters recommended collecting this information in the individual form. Telecommunications are becoming more individualised via mobile phone use, and it is important to capture and understand individual access. However, at this level of detail, it is probably better suited to a sample or specialist survey (eg the Household Use of Information and Communication Technology survey). Also, many of the key data users were content for this question to remain on the dwelling form.

Many people suggested collecting quality of Internet connection data, which has been a key concern for the Government. They were interested in including the type of connection the household had, such as broadband, dial-up etc. However, this might not be suitable to include in the census for several reasons: Internet type does not necessarily indicate connection quality, respondents may not know what type of connection they have, and administrative data may be a better source of this information. We decided that an additional question on Internet quality was not suitable for inclusion in the 2018 Census.

Dwelling counts – occupied, unoccupied, and under construction

This topic will be included in 2018 with no change.

Collecting information on the number of dwellings is one of the main purposes of the census. Preliminary view of 2018 Census content proposed no changes for the counts of occupied dwellings, unoccupied dwellings, or dwellings under construction. However, we invited feedback on whether we should continue distinguishing between unoccupied dwellings that are empty and unoccupied dwellings that have residents who were all away at census time.

The consultation indicated that information on unoccupied dwellings is valuable for planning services and that having separate categories for those that are empty and those that have residents who were away provides a clearer picture of housing stock and the location of housing that is potentially available. Unoccupied dwellings make up a sizable proportion of total dwellings and the numbers may increase in the future.

There was some interest in collecting more detailed information on unoccupied dwellings, such as whether these dwellings are usually occupied, occasionally occupied, or derelict. It is not feasible to collect information on the degree to which a dwelling is occupied in the census. Unoccupied dwellings that are derelict are not included in the dwelling count data that is produced from the census. Such dwellings are not considered part of the housing stock.

Housing quality (access to basic amenities, dwelling dampness indicator, dwelling mould indicator)

These topics will be included in 2018. The mould and dampness indicators are new topics. Information on access to basic amenities was last collected in 1996.

We’ll collect information on housing quality in the 2018 Census. The types of housing quality information we’ll collect will be: whether mould is present, whether the dwelling is damp, and whether certain basic amenities are available. This is the first time we will collect information on mould and dampness in the census. We last collected information on access to amenities in the 1996 Census.

Consultation showed strong interest in including housing quality in the census and it has been identified as a tier one (high priority) statistic for development. Collecting this information in the census will enable a better understanding of the state of New Zealand’s housing, help with addressing housing quality issues, and feed into the legislative requirements of councils. Inclusion in the census also allows provision of regional data that sample surveys cannot provide and cross-tabulations with a range of other topics that are also collected in the census (eg household composition, tenure of household). It is not possible to collect detailed information on housing quality in the census, but having some basic information on this available from the census will be a valuable addition to the information available from other sources. The breadth and depth of information can be expanded on in other surveys, such as the New Zealand General Social Survey (NZGSS). The supplementary topic for the 2018 NZGSS is housing and physical environment.

There was interest in many different types of housing quality information during consultation. The types of housing quality information to be collected in the 2018 Census were determined according to priority for collection and suitability for inclusion, including the potential to produce good quality data.

The consultation indicated the importance of collecting information on aspects of housing quality that affect health and that the highest priorities for collection would be mould, dampness, and access to basic amenities. Questions on these aspects of housing quality are suitable for inclusion in a self-administered survey such as the census because no specialist knowledge is required to answer them. In addition, the presence of mould is regarded as one of the easiest types of housing quality questions to answer and one of the best self-assessed measures of housing quality. It is less affected by individual perceptions than other types of housing quality information such as coldness. A question on whether the dwelling is cold is not as suitable for inclusion because different household members may give different answers, making it difficult to interpret the data. In addition to information on mould, information on dampness is also valuable as this has different effects on health to those of mould. Access to basic amenities is suitable for inclusion in the census because only a small proportion of private dwellings will lack these amenities so the coverage that a census has is needed to measure this. Sample surveys cannot provide an accurate indication of the prevalence of dwellings that lack basic amenities.

Given the high level of interest in housing quality, we included this topic in our testing programme. The types of housing quality questions tested were: mould, dampness, coldness (in the earlier stages), and access to amenities. In general, these questions tested well with most respondents finding them quick and easy to answer. However, responses to the coldness question varied according to personal preferences and recent temperatures and were highly correlated with responses to the question on dampness, suggesting that only one of these measures is needed to indicate housing quality. A decision was made to drop coldness and retain dampness. The evidence from testing indicated that data on dampness would be easier to interpret and higher quality than data on coldness.

The information collected on mould in private dwellings will indicate whether the total amount of visible mould – if present – is greater than an A4 size sheet of paper. This is a practical way of obtaining information on mould levels. It provides a more reliable measure than asking whether mould is a minor or major issue, and is considered useful for assessing health risks at the population level. The same approach for collecting information on mould is used in the Rental Housing Warrant of Fitness. The information collected on dampness will indicate the degree to which a private dwelling is damp, if at all. For access to basic amenities, information will be collected on whether certain amenities are available inside the dwelling (eg cooking facilities, a bath or shower, electricity). The amenity needs to be in working condition to be considered available.

There was much interest in information on insulation during consultation, but it is not possible to collect this information in the census. Many respondents may not know the answer to questions about insulation, especially if they rent their home, so it would not be possible to produce good quality data on this from the census and it is better collected via building inspections.

Some types of housing quality information that were suggested for inclusion are covered by other census topics. The home heating data will provide information on heating appliances and the efficiency and safety of heating, and information on whether dwellings are joined to others is available in the occupied dwelling type data.

Main types of heating

This topic will be included in 2018 with major change. Information on the types of appliances used will be collected rather than just the fuel types and the data will indicate the main types of heating used rather than all types.

Information on home heating has numerous important uses: understanding changes in energy demands, planning distribution, monitoring trends in energy efficiency and conservation, supporting requirements for monitoring air quality, tracking health outcomes and risk factors for respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, identifying areas affected by fuel poverty, informing public health interventions, and informing civil defence planning. Census data on home heating is very valuable because it covers all of New Zealand. There are currently no alternative sources of national data on domestic heating.

The type of information collected in the 2018 Census will be different to that collected previously. For 2018, we’ll collect information on the types of appliances used to heat private dwellings rather than just the fuel types, and the data will indicate the main types of heating used rather than all types. The main types are those used most often. This excludes any types of heating that are only used very rarely.

The engagement and consultation showed strong support for collecting information on this topic in the 2018 Census, noting the many important uses of this data. During consultation it was clearly indicated that information on appliances would be more valuable than information on fuels, and that it is important to distinguish between different appliances that use the same fuel. For example, it is important to distinguish between heat pumps and other appliances that use electricity, and between flued and unflued gas heaters. Different types of appliances that use the same fuel can have different effects on energy demands, heating costs, and health. The 2013 Census data had separate categories for mains and bottled gas, but these do not reliably indicate whether gas heaters are flued or unflued because some flued gas heaters use bottled gas.

Changing the information collected to heating appliances will make it more useful for understanding domestic energy demands, monitoring air quality, and assessing the effectiveness of energy efficiency programmes. Collecting information on appliances rather than just fuels should also help make it clear to respondents that the information being collected is about heating the space inside their homes and not about water heating.

Consultation on whether the information collected should be the main type of heating used, main and secondary types, or all types used indicated a preference for main and secondary types. Data on all types of heating used was not the preferred choice because it includes heating types that are only used rarely, and does not distinguish between those used often and those used rarely.

Data on main and secondary types would provide a good indication of how people heat their homes and would be useful for understanding about emergency preparedness. It would also maintain comparability over time as the main and secondary types could be aggregated together to produce data on all types, as collected previously. However, it would be difficult to collect this information in the census because it would require an extra or more complex question.

Collecting information on the main types of heating means the data will indicate usual domestic heating patterns and provide a clearer picture of home heating than the previous data because any used very rarely will be excluded. Data on the main types of heating will also give a better indication of actual use of heating than the previous data which included all fuels that had ever been used and may not have reflected current heating use. The importance of capturing actual use of heating was emphasised during consultation. One disadvantage of data on the main types of heating is that it will not give a full picture of emergency preparedness.

Although the home heating information collected in 2018 will be different from that collected previously, it is expected that information on fuels will still be available.

The solar heating category included in 2013 has been removed for 2018. Although solar electricity generation is becoming more popular, it is typically used for water heating rather than home heating.

Number of rooms and number of bedrooms

This topic will be included in 2018 with no change.

Number of rooms is a statutory topic under the Statistics Act 1975.

This data provides an indication of dwelling size and information on housing occupancy patterns. It can be used to help estimate future housing demand and derive structural measures of household crowding.

Some interest in collecting information to enable functional crowding to be measured was expressed during consultation. This would mean asking how many people sleep in each room. The census is not a suitable place to collect this information. Respondents may find it intrusive and it would be more complex information to collect than number of bedrooms, so data quality problems seem likely. Functional crowding can be related to issues with heating and housing quality, so the information collected on these topics may provide some insights into households at risk of functional crowding.

Occupied dwelling type

This topic will be included in 2018 with minor change. More detailed information on the number of storeys will be collected in 2018. Another change is that dwellings joined to businesses or shops will be included in the joined dwelling categories instead of ‘occupied private dwelling not further defined’.

Occupied dwelling type provides valuable information on the types of housing people are living in. It covers private dwellings (eg separate houses, units joined to others, private dwellings in motor camps, and improvised dwellings such as garages) and non-private dwellings (eg boarding houses, and residential care for older people). It also provides information on the number of storeys. For joined dwellings, such as units and apartments, this is the number of storeys for the entire building in which they are located (that is, the entire apartment building or block of units). Data on occupied dwelling type is used to monitor housing trends, plan services, measure dwelling density patterns, and identify substandard housing.

The consultation indicated support for making changes to improve the occupied dwelling type data. These included having more information on the number of storeys, and better information on non-private dwellings and homelessness. It was noted that non-private dwellings are excluded from almost all other surveys, so the census provides a rare and important opportunity to produce information about these dwellings and the people living in them.

We’ll collect more detailed information on the number of storeys in 2018. Previously, a top category of four or more storeys was used for the joined dwelling categories. For 2018, the top category for joined dwellings will be 10 or more storeys, and data on joined dwellings in buildings of four to six storeys and seven to nine storeys will be available. This change will allow better measurement of apartments in high-rise buildings, and help with monitoring housing intensification and understanding the role of apartment living. No changes are being made to the storeys categories for separate dwellings. These categories will continue to identify separate dwellings as having one storey, or two or more storeys.

Another change for 2018 is that dwellings joined to businesses or shops will be included in the joined dwelling categories instead of ‘occupied private dwelling not further defined’. This change is to improve the quality and relevance of the data, and provide better information on density patterns.

We’re investigating strategies for improving the information on non-private dwellings, including better identification of boarding houses and accommodation for homeless people.

Sector of landlord

This topic will be included in 2018 with minor change. The information collected will be expanded to include new categories for community housing providers.

Sector of landlord indicates who a household rents their home from, such as a private person (or trust or business), Housing New Zealand, or a city council. This data is used to help formulate and monitor housing policy and measure changes in housing assistance and the consequences of this. It enables Housing New Zealand to assess whether it is meeting its objectives.

The emergence of new types of social housing providers means that changes are needed to the information collected for 2018. The consultation showed that one additional category for these new social housing providers would be adequate for some data users, but other data users preferred more specific categories. There will be two new categories for 2018 – ‘iwi, hapū or Māori land trust’ and ‘other community housing provider’. These types of housing providers were not covered in 2013.

Previously, there has been an undercount of households renting from Housing New Zealand. We’re investigating strategies for improving this undercount.

Tenure of household and individual home ownership

Tenure of household will be included in 2018 with no change.

Individual home ownership (previously called tenure holder) will be included in 2018 with minor change. There will now be a separate category for people who have their home in a family trust. The name of this topic has been changed to indicate more clearly the type of information it provides.

The tenure of household data collected in the census indicates whether households own their home, rent it, have it in a family trust, or occupy it rent-free. The collection of this information is a statutory requirement under the Statistics Act 1975. The census also collects information on home ownership at the individual level. The data provided by these two measures is important for monitoring trends in home ownership rates and formulating housing policy.

The value of having two measures of home ownership – household level and individual level – was recognised during consultation. Unlike other housing topics, the individual-level measure is asked on the individual form rather than the dwelling form. It allows analysis of the characteristics of people (eg age, ethnicity) who own or do not own their homes and has the advantage of including those whose home was unoccupied at the time of the census. Tenure of household data excludes households whose dwelling was unoccupied at census time.

For 2018, we’ll change the name of the individual-level measure from tenure holder to individual home ownership to indicate more clearly the type of information this data provides. Another change to this measure for 2018 is that there will be a separate category for people who have their home in a family trust. In 2006 and 2013, these people were included in the ‘own or partly own’ category.

Previously, there has been concern about whether family trust situations are captured correctly in the census. For 2018, the guidance material for respondents will be changed to help address this.

Weekly rent paid by household

This topic will be included in 2018 with no change.

Uses of rent data include estimation of the amount of income households have available for other (non-housing) expenditure and investigation of the adequacy of low-rent homes, together with data on sector of landlord, number of rooms, and occupied dwelling type.

The consultation indicated some interest in extending the information collected to include the proportion of household income spent on rent. It would be difficult to collect good quality data on this directly from respondents because many people may not know how to calculate it. However, it is possible to calculate it from the information collected on household income and weekly rent paid.

Transport

The following topics are included in this broad topic area:

  • Main means of travel to education and educational institution address
  • Main means of travel to work
  • Number of motor vehicles

Main means of travel to education and educational institution address

These topics will be included in 2018. They are new topics and have not been included in any previous census.

For the 2018 Census, we’re expanding the scope of the transport topic to include travel to education. Previously, only information on travel to work has been collected.

The consultation indicated that data on travel to education would be very valuable. A large proportion of the population travels to education. Their transport needs are different from those travelling to work but relatively little is known about this. Data on travel to education would help with understanding where and how education affects travel demand and how to manage this. Having travel to education data as well as travel to work data will provide a more complete picture of transport patterns in different areas of New Zealand and support transport planning work. During consultation there was strong support for collecting usual means rather than means on census day.

The information collected on travel to education will consist of the main means of travel usually used and the location of the educational institution travelled to. This information will be collected for all levels of education – early childhood, primary, secondary, and tertiary. The main means will be defined in the same way as for travel to work – the one used for the part of the journey that covers the greatest distance.

It is important to collect information on the destination of travel as well as the means so that data users can analyse transport flows for travel to education in the same way as for travel to work.

The consultation indicated some support for collecting other information on travel to education such as the time spent and all modes used rather than just the main mode. There was also some interest in distinguishing between home to education journeys and longer trip chains (for example, home to education to work), and whether children were driven to school as part of a parent’s journey to work or as a separate, additional journey. Collection of these types of information would require additional, more complex questions and is more suitable for a specialist survey than the census.

Main means of travel to work

This topic will be included in 2018 with major change. The information collected is being changed to usual means of travel rather than means of travel on census day and there will now be a separate category for ferries.

This data is used for transport and civil defence planning. Together with data on home and workplace address, it allows analysis of transport flows and the use of different transport modes.

For 2018, we’ll collect information on people’s usual means of travel instead of their means of travel on census day. The usual means is the type of transport used most often. Any respondents who do not have a usual means (eg because they use two forms of transport equally as often) will be asked to select the form of transport they used most recently.

Consultation indicated that data on usual means of travel would be more valuable and relevant than data on census day travel. Data on usual means provides a more accurate picture of transport patterns, including use of public transport and active modes (walking, cycling), and better information for forecasting demand for different travel modes. Usual mode data includes all employed people rather than just those who travelled to work on census day. It also has the advantage of not being affected by the weather on census day (which can alter people’s choice of transport), making it more comparable over time than census day travel data and a better indicator of changes over time.

As previously, the information collected will be the main means of travel only. This is defined as the one used for the part of the journey that covers the greatest distance. No information will be collected on other modes of transport (eg walking) that may be necessary to complete the full journey to work. Interest in information on all modes used (multi-modal travel) was expressed during consultation. This type of data would have value because it would show how different transport modes are integrated and support transport planning and investment work. However it would be more complex information to collect and so is not very suitable for a self-administered survey such as the census. Collection of this type of transport information is better suited to an interviewer administered, specialist survey. Some information on multi-modal travel to work is available from the Household Travel Survey.

During consultation there was some interest in changing the definition of main mode from distance travelled to time spent, as transport planning increasingly focuses on time spent. However making this change would reduce data comparability over time and there does not seem to be a strong need for this to be changed for 2018.

There will be some changes to the categories for the travel to work data. The change to collecting usual mode of travel means that the ‘did not go to work’ on census day category will no longer be required. Another change for 2018 is that responses of ‘ferry’ will now be coded to a separate ‘ferry’ category rather than included in ‘other’. This is being done so that the data will provide a full count of public transport use.

We’ll keep separate categories for private and company vehicle for 2018 because this distinction is important for some data users.

During consultation there were requests to expand the scope of the transport topic to include travel for other purposes and additional information such as the time spent travelling to work. For 2018, the scope of this topic is being expanded to include travel to education (see Main means of travel to education for more on this), but it will not include travel for purposes other than work or education, or additional information such as time spent. Further scope expansion to include travel for other purposes or additional information would require additional questions and there are limits on the amount of information that can be collected on any one topic in the census. More comprehensive information on transport can be collected in specialist transport surveys.

Number of motor vehicles

This topic will be included in 2018 with minor change. More detailed data will be available, including information on households with three motor vehicles, four motor vehicles, or five or more motor vehicles.

The census data on number of motor vehicles indicates the number of motor vehicles that a household has available for private use. This data is used for planning transport services, studying energy conservation, and in developing the New Zealand Deprivation Index.

A change we’re making for 2018 is that information on households with three motor vehicles, four motor vehicles, or five or more motor vehicles will be available. Previously, this information was not available because the top category for data produced from the census was three or more motor vehicles. The consultation indicated support for raising the top category to allow more detailed analysis of household vehicle numbers.

Another change for 2018 that increases the value of this data is that information on exact motor vehicle numbers will be available. Consultation indicated that this would be valuable for planning public transport because it allows analysis using measures such as the number of vehicles per 100 adults in an area. This type of measure gives a better indication of areas with relatively low vehicle numbers and is more useful than the zero-vehicle household data. The zero-vehicle household data may show a concentration of these households in inner-city areas but a fairly low and uniform level of these households in all other areas.

A limitation of the census data on motor vehicles is that it is household level and does not indicate whether individual people have motor vehicle access. During consultation there was a call to collect information on individual motor vehicle access, but this would be complex information to collect and so is not suitable for inclusion in the census.

During consultation it was suggested that motor vehicles used for work purposes only should be included. However, this would be inconsistent with the focus of this data, which is motor vehicles available for private use and therefore any purpose. We will not include vehicles used for work purposes only for 2018. It is recognised that excluding these vehicles means that this data cannot be interpreted as providing a full picture of demand for road space or parking. Some information on use of work vehicles is available from the travel to work data.

Interest in the number of bicycles per household was expressed during consultation, but collecting this information has a lower priority than collecting information on motor vehicles. This is because motor vehicles are a suitable form of transport for the general population whereas bicycles are generally not suitable for young children or older people. We will not include information on the number of bicycles per household in the 2018 Census.

Health

The following topics are included in this broad topic area:

  • Cigarette smoking behaviour
  • Disability/activity limitations

Cigarette smoking behaviour

This topic will be included in 2018 with no change.

Data on smoking prevalence is used by those working in the health sector. Information on current and ex-smokers is used to monitor changes in smoking prevalence among the population of New Zealand. This information enables health professionals to understand the profile of smokers, to better target at-risk groups in the community with future health education programmes, and assess the success of ongoing health education programmes. Smoking data from the census is also used as a general health indicator. It is increasingly being used as a flag for population groups that are disproportionately represented in negative well-being and deprivation indicators.

During consultation, we identified this topic as requiring more information to recommend inclusion. This was partly due to it previously being a cyclical topic, and because there are several alternative data sources for this information.

Feedback strongly supported the inclusion of this topic in the 2018 Census, because alternative data sources do not provide the level of demographic and geographic detail required by researchers. The ability to cross-tabulate smoking behavior with ethnicity, age, sex, income, and other characteristics across small geographic areas is important to enable targeted health education programmes. Smoking data from the 2018 Census is also important for the evaluation of the Government’s Smokefree 2025 plan.

Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) also evoked a lot of discussion, as they are becoming more popular. Most submissions thought that e-cigarettes should not be captured by this topic. They do not contain tobacco and as a result health outcomes associated with e-cigarettes are different from tobacco cigarettes. The inclusion of e-cigarettes within this topic would affect time-series analysis of this major health indicator, and will not be included in the 2018 Census.

Disability/activity limitations

This topic will be included in 2018 with major change.

In the 2018 Census, questions on limitations in basic activities will be used to derive an indicator of disability status for the New Zealand population (aged five years and over). The intended use of this topic will be to compare levels of participation by disabled people in aspects of life covered by the census (such as employment and education) with those of non-disabled people to see if disabled people are achieving social inclusion.

The questions for this topic collect information on difficulty that individuals experience across the areas of vision, hearing, mobility, remembering, self-care, and communications.

This information need was partially met in previous censuses by including questions that helped identify a sample for the post-censal New Zealand Disability Survey. The questions used in the 2013 Census for this purpose were identified as not suitable for publication as an indicator of disability for output. As at publication (July 2017) we have no plans to run a post-censal disability survey following the 2018 Census. This means we need to collect information on this data area suitable for output in the 2018 Census.

The question set and definition of what data will be collected is informed by the Washington Group on Disability Statistics, a group that promotes and co-ordinates ‘international co-operation in the area of health statistics focusing on disability data collection tools suitable for censuses’. This question set is also being used by the NZGSS with slight modifications. The rationale behind collecting this type of information in this manner is outlined by the Washington Group:

Disability serves as an umbrella term for impairments, activity limitations or participation restrictions (ICF, 2005). While it is desirable to collect information on all aspects of disability, this aim cannot be achieved in censuses or in surveys not dedicated to disability. However, censuses can be used to obtain data on selected aspects of disability (Washington Group on Disability Statistics (2006)). 

Disability can be measured for a variety of purposes. Each purpose can be related to different dimensions of disability or different conceptual components of disability. This means there is a need for a clear link between the purpose of measurement and how we define the indicators of disability. The Washington Group selected equalisation of opportunities as the primary purpose for an internationally comparable short set of disability questions. This purpose was chosen because:

  • it was relevant (of high importance across countries with respect to policy)
  • it was feasible (it is possible to collect the proposed information using a small set of questions (4–6) that could be included in censuses, comparable across populations).

To address this purpose, the questions identify persons who are at greater risk than the general population of experiencing restrictions in performing complex activities (such as activities of daily living) or participating in roles (such as working) if no accommodations were made. Measurements intended to identify this ‘at risk’ population represent the most basic end of the spectrum of activities (ie activities such as walking, remembering, seeing, hearing). This ‘at risk’ group would include persons with limitations in basic activities who may or may not also experience limitations in more complex activities and/or restrictions in participation. This in turn may depend on whether or not they use assistive devices or a have a supportive environment.

The questions will not identify every disabled person in every community. The choice of a limited number of disability domains means that we won’t be able to identify all the needs for disability statistics in the census. A comprehensive picture of disability can only come from large, national, sample surveys or administrative data.

Within a census format, only a limited number of questions can be devoted to health. For simplicity, brevity, and comparability, we chose questions on limitations in basic activity domains; they are most closely associated with social exclusion and occur most frequently. The information that results from the use of these questions is expected to:

  • represent the majority, but not all, of disabled persons with limitations in basic activities
  • represent the most commonly occurring disability domains in any country
  • capture persons with similar problems across countries.

The questions we’ll use in the 2018 Census identify a population with functional limitations that have the potential to limit independent participation in society. The data can be used to compare levels of participation in activities covered in the census such as employment, education, or family life for those with and without disability. The data could also be used to monitor prevalence of limitations in each of the four chosen domains.

The 2018 Census will be the first time data on disability will be output directly from the census. It will allow cross tabulations with other census data. However, it is not comparable with the previous information on disability.

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