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Chief Executive’s overview

Ēhara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari he toa takitini.
My strength is not that of a single person or entity, but the collective drive of us all.
1

Nau mai, haere mai ki tenei rīpoata o Tatauranga Aotearoa ō te tau nei. Welcome to Statistics New Zealand's Annual Report.

This year is the International Year of Statistics (Statistics 2013) and we are one of more than 2,000 organisations worldwide celebrating this special occasion. It provides a good framework to celebrate another year of progress and positive change within Statistics New Zealand. The organisation has successfully delivered on two fronts – advancing Statistics 2020 Te Kāpehu Whetū (Stats 2020), our vision for the future, and supplying our scheduled official statistical outputs that continue to help New Zealand grow and prosper.

As I’m new to the organisation, my reflections on our achievements over the past 12 months are very fresh. For most of this time, our organisation was led by Geoff Bascand, Chief Executive and Government Statistician until May 2013. Geoff’s leadership is reflected throughout these pages, as is his dedication and commitment to guiding the organisation towards a sustainable future. More recently, Dallas Welch has been the Acting Chief Executive and Government Statistician, and has maintained the momentum, providing sound guidance and a steady hand.

I trust that this Annual Report shows that Statistics New Zealand has made good progress and will continue to do so in the coming year as I settle into my role as Chief Executive and Government Statistician.

Statistics New Zealand has an important role in leading the country’s Official Statistics System (OSS). This year we led a project to refocus Government funding from supporting low-priority statistics to refocus on the development of unfunded high priority (known as Tier 1) statistics. This will help ensure statistics essential to central government decision-making can be developed and produced.

Our increasing external focus continues to develop and this is demonstrated by our active leadership of, and contribution to, a number of cross-government initiatives highlighted in the report. I am committed to building this further.

Millions of New Zealanders trust us with their information, and we do everything necessary to protect it. New Zealanders also rely on us to produce quality statistics with the information they supply us. We are mindful of the confidence they have in us to help tell the country’s story. This year, we released a huge volume of statistics, and worked hard to find more ways to increase the value of the data, and make it useful and relevant to people.

One of our most visible projects during the year was the country’s 33rd national census. The 2013 Census of Population and Dwellings, held on 5 March 2013, was the first census since 2006. The statistics behind staging the government’s largest data collection activity during the year were impressive: 7,500 people delivered 6.4 million census forms to 1.8 million homes. This year’s high online-response rate of 35 percent indicates that New Zealanders are ready to embrace new ways of completing official surveys. The first information from the 2013 Census will be released on 3 December 2013. The results are eagerly anticipated and we are confident they will be well utilised by central and local government, the media, Māori, business, and the wider public to help inform policy decisions and enable evidence based decision-making.

This was the second year of progress in transforming Statistics New Zealand to ensure we are a national statistics office that is fit for the future. Statistics 2020 will enable us to better meet the needs of our customers and deliver more value to New Zealand from official statistics. As we move towards our future vision, it is important we shift our organisational culture and capability so we have a firm base to operate from and a commitment to, and understanding of, our shared vision. This year we made good progress in developing our people capability, including on how to be responsive to Māori, which will play a significant ongoing role in our ability to transform.

Like most organisations, Statistics New Zealand has faced challenges in the past year. For example, it is undoubtedly becoming more difficult to collect information from businesses and individuals. Managing the tension between privacy and maximising use of individual data will be an ongoing challenge. Maintaining the momentum with our whole-of-organisation transformation programme has, and will continue to require, our focus to ensure that the benefits will be realised.

But as this report shows, we continue to progress. While our organisation makes numbers count, it’s our staff that produce the numbers. I want to acknowledge our staff in this introduction, because the achievements this report highlights are a direct result of the efforts our staff have made over the last 12 months.

Next year, 2013/14, I look forward to seeing our staff and our organisation embrace the opportunities and challenges we will face to deliver better public services. I am fully confident our progress towards transformation, our commitment to customers and cross-government initiatives, and our ongoing delivery of high value information to New Zealand will endure.

Liz MacPherson
Chief Executive and Government Statistician
29 August 2013

 1.This whakatauki refers to the contributions to a particular initiative or project that benefits the whole of the community.

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