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What shaped our year

This chapter highlights eight aspects of our culture and work that have shaped the way Statistics New Zealand has performed over the year:

2013 Census of Population and Dwellings

The 2013 Census of Population and Dwellings, New Zealand’s 33rd national census, was held on 5 March 2013. It was the largest activity undertaken by a government department in 2013. We employed about 7,500 people to deliver 6.4 million census forms to 1.8 million homes. The delivery and collection of census forms from all households in New Zealand takes at least 550,000 working hours. Our contact centre managed nearly 40,000 phone calls from respondents on census day alone.

Just under 2 million census forms were completed online. This is about 35 percent of all census forms that were filled out, which was our target. This is a great improvement from 2006, where barely 7 percent of forms were completed online. At its peak, our online system processed 130,000 forms an hour, or more than 2,000 per minute. The uptake of the online option in the 2013 Census makes New Zealand a world leader in online census collection.

With the census collection phase complete and data processing underway, we are looking forward to releasing the first census information for seven years on 3 December 2013. From December, we will also start to fulfil customised data requests, and progressively publish results from the census on our website.

Before the December release, census data will first be used to calculate the number of general and Māori electorates. We will announce the revised number of electorates on 7 October 2013.

We are currently exploring options for the next census and beyond. Our aim is to make the best use of all available data and to take advantage of new technologies. No decisions have been made yet, but Statistics New Zealand will report back to the Government later this year and provide advice on future options, including the shape and timing of the next census.

Statistics 2020 Te Kāpehu Whetū progress

The 2012/13 year was the second year of Statistics 2020 Te Kāpehu Whetū (Stats 2020), which outlines our vision for the future. It is our long-term transformation programme that requires a shift in how we deliver outputs, lead the Official Statistics System (OSS), and nurture our organisation’s culture and capability. This will ensure we are a national statistics office that is fit for the future. Stats 2020 will allow us to more effectively and efficiently meet our customers’ needs (including Māori and iwi information needs), and obtain greater value from the Government’s investment in official statistics.

This year we continued migrating our information technology legacy systems onto more sustainable and standardised platforms. We also further developed our people capability, which is a key foundation for our future transformation. We introduced NZ.Stat as the new way of accessing statistics and creating tables online, and further enhanced our leadership of the OSS by developing a proposal for shared services to be used across OSS partners.

Figure 1 shows the pathway we will take to achieve the Stats 2020 vision.

Figure 1

Development stages of Stats 2020

Diagram of development stages of Stats 2020.

Figure 2 illustrates the four strategic priorities we have set to help us achieve the visions of Stats 2020.

Figure 2

Our four strategic priorities and their focus areas

Diagram of our four strategic priorities and their focus areas.

Chapter 3, Progress against our strategic priorities, outlines the progress we made throughout the year on each strategic priority.


Effectiveness for Māori strategy            

We are committed to recognising the uniqueness accorded Māori as tangata whenua, in keeping with the Treaty of Waitangi.

The Effectiveness for Māori Strategy (EfMS) is the framework that shapes our commitments to meeting Māori information needs across the four strategic priorities of Stats 2020.

The outcome sought from the EfMS is an OSS that is effective for Māori. This outcome will be achieved through:

  • decision-making in the OSS being well-informed about, and responsive to, Māori and their statistical needs and interests
  • high quality official statistics that are relevant to Māori users and prospective users
  • Māori understanding the value of official statistics and accessing and using them to inform their own debates, research, and decision-making.

We influence the OSS through our leadership role to achieve the outcomes of the EfMS.

Key achievements during the year that contributed to our organisational responsiveness to Māori include the following.

  • The Federation of Māori Authorities received another release of official statistical data relevant to members as part of the Agriculture Survey releases. This work received recognition as a finalist in the IPANZ Awards 2013.
  • Te Kupenga, formerly known as the Māori Social Survey, went out for collection in the field as a post-census survey.
  • The Collections Strategy team researched the experience of Māori respondents to help improve the response rates of Māori to surveys.
  • We launched Te Waharoa, a web-based directory that leads to information of interest about and for Māori from social surveys across the OSS.
  • We identified key Māori experts and cultural topic areas and sought their views on the Environment Domain Plan. This resulted in a Māori perspective reflected across all topic areas and a separate Māori topic.
  • We agreed to participate in the whole of government Te Hiku o Te Ika Social Development and Wellbeing Accord. This enables us to contribute to iwi in a post-Treaty settlement environment.
  • We translated New Zealand in Profile: 2013 into te reo Māori (Te Āhua o Aotearoa: 2013) – the first of the series to be published in te reo.
  • Representatives from the Independent Māori Statutory Board (IMSB) met with us in June 2013 to begin a mutually beneficial professional relationship. The IMSB was established in 2010 when Auckland Council was created. It represents both mana whenua (Māori with ancestral ties in Tamaki Makarau) and mataaweka (Māori that live in Auckland that have ancestral ties outside Tamaki Makarau). The IMSB needs Auckland-level data as a basis for its advocacy to change outcomes for Māori. It sees us as a critical partner for providing advice and access to data, and is keen to use our resources.

During 2012/13, we also made good progress in supporting staff as they built their capability to understand te ao Māori in order to better respond to Māori information needs. We developed a Core Leadership Behaviour, ‘Responsiveness to Māori’ to be introduced into our performance management for all staff. We also introduced a Tikanga Policy (Māori Protocols) and guidelines for the organisation so that Māori protocols are used consistently for the benefit of Māori stakeholders.

The Statistics New Zealand Internal Responsiveness to Māori Forum established a way of influencing consistent responses to Māori across all business groups, and co-ordinating and reporting on progress in this work.

Purchase advice and Tier 1 statistics

The Government Statistician provides purchase advice to Treasury and the Ministers of Finance and Treasury each year as a contribution to the Budget process. This aims to ensure that the Government’s investment in official statistics is effective and efficient. For Budget 2013, the focus of purchase advice was on identifying resources that could be reallocated from low priority statistical spending to fund the development of unfunded Tier 1 statistics.

Tier 1 statistics are New Zealand’s most important official statistics. Cabinet agreed to the revised Tier 1 statistics list in June 2012. At that time they noted that a number of Tier 1 statistics had indicative development and ongoing costs that were unable to be covered within existing appropriations. The purchase advice process for Budget 2013 identified $900,000 in Vote Statistics that could be made available for reprioritisation. This was allocated to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to fund the development of housing affordability Tier 1 statistics starting in 2013/14.

Cross-government initiatives

Contribution to Better Public Services

The Better Public Services (BPS) programme is one of the Government's four priorities for this term. Focusing on delivering better public services within tight financial constraints, 10 specific results have been identified, set across five result areas. Statistics New Zealand is well connected to the BPS programme and has actively contributed in a number of ways.

We are one of the nine lead agencies for Result Area 9: Business Facing Services (RA9). We have a member on the cross-agency steering committee and on the RA9 management group, and two senior advisers seconded to the BPS programme team at the Ministry of Business, Employment and Innovation. We advised on the implications for the use of administrative data and survey collection activity from the introduction of the NZ Business Number.

We continue to advise on the measurement of all result areas.

Government ICT Strategy and Action Plan to 2017

We contributed to the development of the Government ICT Strategy and Action Plan to 2017 in collaboration with key people from across the public sector. This new direction for Government ICT was agreed to by Cabinet in June 2013.

The implementation of the strategy and action plan will have implications for Statistics New Zealand and the OSS. This is particularly the case with data dissemination, information management, and assurance elements. We have indicated that we will actively participate in implementing the strategy and action plan, and have begun work identifying the resources and capability needed.


At the end of 2012, we were asked to lead the cross-government Privacy Leadership Programme of work, which aims to lift public sector performance in privacy management. An all-of-government approach is needed for managing privacy. Public sector agencies have a shared responsibility to protect people’s information.

The Privacy Leadership Programme established two groups: the Privacy Working Group and the Privacy Leadership Forum, both with membership from across the state sector. The forum has focused on providing the opportunity to discuss privacy at a governance level, while the working group developed practical resources and approaches.

In being asked to lead the Privacy Leadership Programme, we were recognised as a best practice agency, protecting the privacy, security, and confidentiality of personal information. Given the large quantities of personal information we hold, this is a responsibility we take very seriously.


Our response to the Christchurch earthquake recovery

Our main office in central Christchurch (Dollan House) was officially reopened by the Minister of Statistics, Hon Maurice Williamson, on 19 July 2012. With the return to Dollan House, our focus shifted to two key areas. The first was continuing to support our staff as they worked through the many personal challenges that living in Christchurch still brings. The second was contributing to the delivery of the Government’s fourth priority of supporting the rebuilding of Christchurch.

We were active members of the Canterbury Government Leaders Group and joined other agencies in Christchurch in the Public Sector Organisational Resilience team. Membership in these groups allows us to maximise opportunities to contribute to providing effective government services in Christchurch and building and maintaining a resilient workforce.

Specific actions we took to provide key information to inform the Christchurch rebuild included:

  • continue producing the Christchurch Retail Trade Indicator
  • identifying building consents related to repair or replacement of earthquake-damaged buildings
  • prioritising work on the Canterbury 2013 Census information
  • updating population projections (in the absence of a census).

The International Year of Statistics

Statistics New Zealand is one of more than 2,000 organisations worldwide participating in the International Year of Statistics 2013 (Statistics2013).

Statistics2013 is an international celebration and recognition of the contributions of statistical science. The goals of Statistics2013 include:

  • increasing public awareness of the power and impact of statistics on all aspects of society
  • nurturing statistics as a profession, especially among young people
  • promoting creativity and development in the sciences of probability and statistics.

We planned a series of events throughout 2013 to promote the importance of statistics to business and government customers, the media, policy makers, Māori, employers, students, and ordinary New Zealanders.

Our statistical releases

Our scheduled information releases continued to be widely utilised, with some of the most high-profile including Gross Domestic Product, Consumers Price Index, the Household Labour Force Survey, and the Balance of Payments releases.

To increase awareness and use of official statistics, we published a range of releases and articles with a new focus on previously released data, or with fresh analysis. These included:

  • population-based interpretation of the Olympic Games medals table
  • infographics, eg the cost of Christmas dinner, and electronic gadgets in the CPI (see figure 3)
  • New Zealand's population reaching an estimated 4,444,444 on 1 November 2012
  • a range of social and population statistics on time spent caring for children, loneliness, and perceptions of housing quality.

We also focused on awareness of statistics for Māori, through:

  • the release of New Zealand in Profile: 2013 in te reo Māori, Te Āhua o Aotearoa: 2013)
  • greater visibility of Māori population estimates
  • a feasibility study from Te Kupenga with information on whānau size.

To maintain confidence in statistics and trust in our approach, we consulted broadly on:

  • New Zealand arrival and departure card information
  • Census Transformation
  • topics concerning the Consumers Price Index 
  • New Zealand Income Survey
  • Local Authority Statistics.

Figure 3

Example of an infographic – Electronic gadgets in the CPI

Infographic of electronic gadgets in the CPI

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