Stats NZ has a new website.

For new releases go to

As we transition to our new site, you'll still find some Stats NZ information here on this archive site.

  • Share this page to Facebook
  • Share this page to Twitter
  • Share this page to Google+
Preparing for the 2018 Census: Our approach, and steps to deciding content

A new approach to running the 2018 Census

We are modernising the way we run the 2018 Census, while maintaining the quality of the data produced – especially the important counts of every person and dwelling in New Zealand.

Our new approach includes the following:

  • Most people will be contacted by mail, rather than by a census collector visiting their home as was done previously.
  • We are shifting to an online-first approach. Although some respondents (34 percent) completed their census forms online for the 2013 Census, for 2018 we expect use of online forms will increase and that more respondents will complete forms online than on paper. Using online forms provides new opportunities for improving data quality and respondent experience.
  • We are investigating making greater use of administrative data to improve the quality of census data. For example, it may be possible to use administrative data on income for people who don’t provide this information in the census. In the long term, we plan to produce census information directly from administrative sources where possible.

Reviewing the content for the 2018 Census

In preparation for the 2018 Census, we are also reviewing the content. With little change to census content since 2001, our focus for the 2018 Census is to maintain and improve the relevance of content to help meet customer needs.

We are assessing the range of information we collect, considering collecting new information, and proposing some changes to the existing information. We’ll assess cyclic variables (things that change slowly and are therefore included in the census less often), and other variables for reduced relevance or suitability to be collected in the census. We aim to make changes to improve the relevance and quality of the information collected, while balancing the need to preserve data comparability over time so that trends can be tracked.

Although there is scope for new information to be collected in the 2018 Census, we have to consider the effect of this on respondent burden and data quality. Most changes are likely to be for existing information that is collected. The majority of census variables will remain unchanged to preserve the comparability of the data over time.

All engagement is welcomed. We will listen and carefully consider all feedback. However, we cannot meet all needs for census content change. The Government Statistician will make final decisions on census content.

How we shaped our preliminary view of content

This preliminary view of 2018 Census content has been shaped by:

The criteria for deciding census content in the appendix provides the questions we ask when deciding on content. It has been a guide for this preliminary view.

The stages to decide final content for the 2018 Census

While a wealth of input has already shaped this preliminary view of census content, the content to be included in the 2018 Census will only be finalised following extensive engagement, consultation, and testing.

This ensures that the content meets customer requirements, is acceptable and easily understandable to respondents, and works within the new approach (mail-out and Internet-first) being adopted for the 2018 Census.

Under the Statistics Act 1975, the Government Statistician will make the final decision on the content for the 2018 Census.

The stages required to determine final content are shown in figure 1.

Figure 1: The stages to decide final 2018 Census content

Image, The stages to decide final 2018 Census content.


  • Share this page to Facebook
  • Share this page to Twitter
  • Share this page to Google+
  • Share this page to Facebook
  • Share this page to Twitter
  • Share this page to Google+