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Message from the Government Statistician

I take great pleasure in presenting Statistics New Zealand’s Annual Report for 2007/08.

This year has been a busy one. We have continued our focus on creating an environment in which government, businesses, communities and citizens use official statistics on the country’s economy, society and environment to inform debate, research and decision making.

Leadership of the Official Statistic System

As the leader of the Official Statistics System, Statistics New Zealand’s role is to lead a system that produces statistics and analysis that help New Zealanders to make informed decisions and to better understand their country. We are seeking an informed society using official statistics, and Statistics New Zealand is central to achieving this goal.

Through our leadership of the Official Statistics System we aim to have an efficient, coordinated system across all government departments, producing a sustainable set of quality statistics that describe New Zealand’s economy, society and environment. In 2007/08, we have worked towards this aim by leading the development of domain plans for different areas of activity (for example the agriculture, horticulture and forestry sector), and monitoring agency adherence with the principles and protocols that support the quality and integrity of key official statistics.

Statistics New Zealand as a producer of statistics

The past year saw us refreshing our mission and implementing a new leadership structure. Our new mission, ‘Turning data into relevant knowledge, efficiently’, places a greater focus on adding value to the information we produce and on doing this efficiently. Our new leadership structure aims to strengthen the direction, culture and performance of Statistics New Zealand.

During the year we have seen some significant achievements in a number of areas. We continued to improve access to our statistics under our Making More Information Freely Available (MIFA) initiative, which has been rolling out free information in response to rapidly expanding demand from customers.

We also continued to improve the relevance and coverage of official statistics on important aspects of our society, economy and environment. These include commencing collection of the General Social Survey; the production of the non-profit satellite account that for the first time measured the contribution of the non-profit sector; the production of new energy-use statistics; the publication of the first results from the Longitudinal Immigration Survey: New Zealand; and, in conjunction with the international statistical community, the development of a framework for measuring New Zealand’s progress in relation to sustainable development.

Other achievements relate to the efficiency and effectiveness of what we do, including the development of a respondent load strategy to minimise the load we put on the households and businesses that reply to our surveys.

Future challenges and opportunities

As an organisation we face some considerable challenges. Users demand statistics on new subjects, more complex concepts, and at greater levels of detail. Rising demand for energy, environment and emissions statistics that conform to emerging international standards are examples. Key users have emphasised and agreed on priorities to extend and update our core economic statistics, which lag behind international best practice, should resources permit. Set against this, data collection is becoming more challenging, as our respondents have ever-busier lives and question the value of our intrusion. Advances in technology and communication mean users and respondents expect more efficient methods of collection and dissemination.

At the same time we must drive production costs down, minimise the cost to respondents and continue to maintain the quality and integrity of existing statistics. Our costs are rising faster than our revenue and our information technology (IT) and statistical infrastructure is ageing. The median length of service of our staff is short, which makes it harder to maintain our organisational knowledge. We will need to address these challenges now and in coming years.

I am proud of the commitment and professionalism Statistics New Zealand’s staff bring to their work. Every day we make connections that make our information more useful to others. We communicate statistics about New Zealand, its economy, its people, its communities and its environment in ways that are relevant and engaging.

I am excited by the year ahead and look forward to working with our staff and others to make the most of the opportunities available to us and to meet the challenges we face. I have enjoyed the privilege of leading Statistics New Zealand in the year I've been its Chief Executive and Government Statistician and look forward to extending our achievements in the coming year.

Geoff Bascand
Chief Executive and Government Statistician

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