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+
Language spoken


'Language spoken' provides information on whether a person can speak and understand spoken or sign language.

Relationship to questionnaire(s)

Data on language spoken comes from question 13 on the individual form (PDF 395kb).

Subject population

The subject population is the people, families, households or dwellings to whom the variable applies.

The subject population for this variable is the census usually resident population.

Non-response rate

The 2006 non-response rate was 4.9 percent.

The 2001 non-response rate was 4.6 percent.

Quality Management Strategy priority level

Language spoken is a supplementary variable.

The Census Quality Management Strategy assigns a priority level to all census variables.

Supplementary variables do not fit directly in with the main purpose of a census, but are still of importance to certain groups. These variables have third priority in terms of effort and resources.

All data must meet minimum quality standards in order to make it suitable for use.

Comparability with 1996 and 2001 Census data

There are issues affecting the comparability of this data with 1996 and 2001 Census data:

  • New Zealand Sign Language became New Zealand's third official language in April 2006. As a result, the 'official language indicator' variable for 2006 will include data on New Zealand Sign Language, whereas previously it did not include this information.
  • In the 2001 and 2006 Censuses, there was a reminder to respondents to mark English included on the English language form, and a reminder to mark Māori on the Māori-English language form. These reminders were not included in 1996.

Significant issues

There are no significant issues that users need to be aware of.

Other things to be aware of

  • There were about 370 respondents who gave a text response that was classified as 'none' and also gave another response. These respondents have been counted in the 'none' category and in the categories for the particular languages they gave.
  • All census data was subject to considerable checks (including edits) during processing and evaluation, to ensure that it meets quality standards and is suitable for use. These checks were applied to data supplied both on paper and on Internet forms. In addition to these quality checks, the Internet form had built-in editing functionality that directed respondents to the appropriate questions and ensured that their responses were valid. As a result of this, data from Internet forms may be of higher overall quality than data from paper forms. The significance of this will depend on the particular type of analysis being done.
  • There were differences between how the forms were completed on the Internet and on paper for this variable:
    • The Internet form did not allow inconsistent multiple responses of 'none' plus one or more languages. If the 'none' box was marked, any other responses to language spoken disappeared. Inconsistent multiple responses to this question were possible when forms were completed on paper.
    • On the Internet, it was only possible to give text responses if 'other' was marked. The number of characters that could be entered was limited. When forms were completed on paper, it was possible to give a text response but not mark the 'other' tick box.
  • 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+