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South Island

The following community stories are organised by location and show how different South Island regions used 2006 Census data.


Low-cost services for seasonal Marlborough workers

Marlborough is a well-established wine-producing region. The wine industry is seasonal, and causes an influx of temporary workers over the summer months. This peak in population, combined with the changing characteristics of its usually resident population, was putting pressure on the region's healthcare providers.

The Marlborough District Council used 2006 Census data to determine what the characteristics and size of the peak population were. By comparing the census usually resident population count with the March census night count, the council found that about 8 percent of the 46,000 people on census night were visitors to the region.

Those who don't usually live in an area are generally ineligible for certain healthcare benefits, and potentially have different healthcare needs compared with usual residents. Information from the census also showed there was a high population of overseas visitors on relatively low incomes. To better service this population, a recently established community trust has proposed the creation of a low-cost healthcare clinic. Also, thanks to the census information about age, sex and ethnicity, established healthcare providers now provide services that are more relevant to the community.

Less pressure on GPs and better-tailored services benefit the whole community, while visitors to Marlborough can now expect more affordable healthcare services.

Remote healthcare in the sounds

The Marlborough region includes the larger towns of Blenheim and Picton and stretches north into the beautiful but remote Marlborough Sounds.

The Sounds are sparsely populated, but numbers increase substantially in summer as visitors occupy holiday homes and baches. Out of season, the Sounds population doesn’t support a full-time GP practice or medical clinic. The seasonal increase in population can put stress on local health services, so the Marlborough District Council needed to find a way to deliver health services to a changing and sometimes isolated population.

Census data helped to reveal the number of occupied and unoccupied dwellings, including those in remote areas. It also revealed the make up of the community including age, sex and ethnicity as well as population numbers. Comparing census night information with usual residence information from the 2006 Census helped the council and healthcare service providers to plan more effectively.

In response to the census findings, a pilot scheme is underway to provide more flexible healthcare services to Marlborough Sounds’ residents. One initiative includes nurses travelling by water taxi to remote parts of the Sounds to provide half-day clinics, administering vaccinations and treating minor complaints. Locals and visitors are pleased with this innovative solution to a seasonal problem.


West Coast

Improving bungalows in Buller

Buller’s hospitality is world renowned but they also know how to look after their own. Buller has a higher percentage of people aged 60 years and over on low incomes than the national average. The Buller District Council wants to improve the standard of the affordable accommodation it provides for these residents. Housing New Zealand’s Housing Innovation Fund supports local council housing needs that are not fully met by Housing New Zealand or the private market, such as housing for older people and people with disabilities.

The council used census information to identify the number of over 60-year-olds in the area with low incomes, and low income-to-rent ratios. At the time of the 2006 Census, only 11.5 percent of people aged over 60 years receive an income of $30,000 a year or more. The council also looked at population projections to estimate demand for housing in the future. By combining this information, the council had the evidence it needed to apply for additional funding.

Following the successful application in 2006/07, over 20 bungalows in Westport and Reefton are now being upgraded for older residents. The bungalows will have better access to bathrooms for people with disabilities, and improved safety and security features.



Christchurch libraries become multicultural

Although Christchurch has a fairly homogenous population in terms of ethnicity, it is becoming increasingly diverse. Between 1991 and 2006, Pacific peoples, Asian, and Middle Eastern, Latin American and African ethnic groupings have all increased as a proportion of Christchurch City's total population. The largest increase was in the Asian ethnic group, up from 2.1 percent in 1991, to 7.9 percent in 2006. Local community groups and non-government agencies are aware of these changes and want to tailor their services, such as libraries, to these changing communities.

The Christchurch City Council used 2006 Census information to create a specialised report for its city. Published in August 2007, the report covers information relating to demographics, migration, housing, age structure, occupation, and access to services such as telecommunications. It helped library staff across Christchurch to be more aware of the size and location of different ethnic and age groups. It highlighted a need for more reading resources for a number of languages. For example, since 2001 native speakers of Afrikaans have increased by 62 percent to reach 993.

Library staff have now expanded their world languages collections, which are now better able to meet the language needs of their local communities.

Helping refugees settle in to Kiwi life

As part of New Zealand’s efforts to provide aid to people around the world, 750 refugees settle here each year with the help of Refugee Services Aotearoa New Zealand. The agency helps new arrivals settle into their new homes, particularly in their first six months.

The Christchurch Refugee Services unit used 2006 Census information to determine where different ethnic groups settle in the city, with the aim of housing new refugees nearby. For instance, of Christchurch City's Afghani population of 462, nearly one-fifth live in just two areas, Jellie Park and Barrington North. Having these local support networks and contacts is especially important for those who do not speak English.

Another reason refugees are placed together is because high schools with refugee students receive funding for specific resources, such as bilingual teaching aids. The more refugee students, the greater the funding for these resources. Refugee students can then learn English faster, increasing their future employment opportunities.

Refugee Services also helps refugees fill out their census form which comes around every five years. The agency recognises that refugees are more likely to receive services dedicated to them when they are represented in statistics.

As a result of the assistance Refugee Services provides, refugees have a better settlement experience, increased involvement in the local community and better integration into Kiwi life.

Recreation facilities for Christchurch’s diverse communities

Providing recreational facilities for its local communities is an important aim of the Christchurch City Council. The council recognises that communal open spaces encourage a sense of community pride and unity. The council needs to keep up with the changing needs of its communities.

Using census information about age structure, ethnic groups and access to private motor vehicles, the council was able to create a profile of each community. It then spoke to residents to get their input into the park and recreational facilities they would like near their homes.

The Avonhead-Riccarton South area (Avonhead, Upper Riccarton, Riccarton West, Riccarton, and Riccarton South) has a high proportion of Asian ethnic group residents, around a quarter of the local community compared with a national average of only 9 percent. The council approached the Asian community for feedback, and found that they like to play team sports on an informal basis. The council then ensured local parks had basketball courts and permanent goal posts on fields, so residents could just turn up and play.

Responding to community needs has fostered more participation by locals in council events and improved the care of shared facilities. Encouraging locals to get outside and have fun has the added benefits of improved physical and mental health.



Affordable housing for Waimate’s older residents

Situated halfway between Timaru and Oamaru, Waimate has been growing in popularity over the years as a place to settle. However, consistent with the national trend, Waimate’s population is ageing. A growing concern among the community was the low incomes of older residents, and the affordability of local housing. For example, only 22.4 percent of those aged 65 years and over in Waimate received more than $20,000 a year. This compares with 32.2 percent for all of New Zealand.

The Waimate District Council knew that the increasing number of older residents on low incomes was putting pressure on low- to mid-range housing options. The council is now seeking funding from the government to build additional affordable accommodation as part of the Housing Innovation Fund.

Data from the 2006 Census was consistent with the council’s perceived changes in the local population and could be used to strengthen their case for additional government funding. Older residents are looking forward to more affordable housing in the future. The rest of the community will also benefit from less pressure on the rental market.

The challenge of increasing Clutha’s fitness

The South Otago district of Clutha is an area of great natural beauty. The Clutha District Council wants locals to make the most of its outdoors but recognises that it also needs to provide indoor options. To ensure the healthy future of the district, the council wants to encourage residents to increase their physical activity. One way to do this is to ensure they have access to recreational facilities in the area.

The council used 2006 Census information to identify changes in the population over time, and therefore the need for present and future community facilities. They found that the median age of residents in the Clutha District is 39 years, compared with New Zealand's median of 36 years. Despite the ageing population, they also found a higher than average proportion of young people under the age of 15.

These statistics, alongside a very active community driven consultation, confirmed that plans for a recreation centre should go ahead. Balclutha, the largest community in Clutha, has been chosen as the site for the new centre. It will boast multipurpose covered netball courts and squash courts to meet the needs of the younger generation.

Swimming, walking and aqua-jogging are low-impact activities well suited to older generations. Swimming pools have become a point of discussion in the district and $3 million has also been approved for a footpath strategy to improve walking options.



Business support in Clutha

Clutha is full of friendly people, spectacular scenery and wildlife across a range of landscapes. However, like many rural areas in New Zealand, Clutha’s population is declining. This means that small businesses in particular will struggle to survive.

Fortunately, Enterprise Clutha, a charitable trust sponsored by the council, was set up to encourage successful and viable local businesses to continue trading. It also focuses on prospective businesses looking to set up in the region, using census information such as average income levels and age structure to identify potential markets. For example, Enterprise Clutha saw that there was a need for affordable, frozen goods in the area, and so they supported the start-up of a frozen product store that is now looking to expand.

By encouraging sustainable and prospering small businesses, the population decline will hopefully reverse. Increasing population figures can in turn improve business and employment opportunities.

Buses from Bluff

Although the town of Bluff occupies a solitary position at the southernmost point of the South Island, it is still part of Invercargill City. Bluff residents rely on the transport services provided by Invercargill, and they often take the 25-minute drive to the city centre.

Knowing that many residents travel long distances by private car, the council regularly reviews public transportation coverage for the city and wider communities. Results from the 2006 Census showed that 14.6 percent of Bluff households did not have access to a car. This compared with 9.5 percent for Invercargill City and 8.1 percent of households nationally.

In response to the 2006 Census figures, the Bluff Community Board approached the council for assistance in giving Bluff locals a cheap and environment-friendly option for making the trip to Invercargill and back. The council is now exploring options, including the possibility of adults using the existing school bus service or the introduction of a new public bus service.

Walking and cycling in Southland

Because Invercargill is spread out over a large flat area, Environment Southland saw the opportunity to encourage locals to walk and cycle. To do this, the available network of walkways and cycling routes had to be extended and improved. Concerns for the safety and convenience of pedestrians and cyclists were also considered.

Information from the 2006 Census is being used by the Southland District Council to support applications for funding from Land Transport New Zealand and the Department of Conservation. Figures from the census show that 17 percent of Southland region's households have access to three or more vehicles, which is above the national average. The proportion for households with access to two vehicles is also above average. The greater the access to motor vehicles, the greater the potential of conflict between vehicles and cyclists and pedestrians, particularly along main routes such as State Highway Six.

Working with the local council, Environment Southland has already constructed 2.8km of walkways along the Waihopai River in Invercargill and will be extending these in the future. These walkways are encouraging locals to cycle and walk more, whether for exercise and recreation (like at the annual Wai Tri triathlon that uses the pathways), or simply as a shortcut route.

Residents and visitors are already enjoying the benefits of the walking and cycling strategy and can look forward to further upgrades, and new cycle and walkway routes in the future.


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