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All people in the working-age population who during the reference week: 

  • worked for one hour or more for pay or profit in the context of an employee/employer relationship or self-employment 
  • worked without pay for one hour or more in work which contributed directly to the operation of a farm, business, or professional practice owned or operated by a relative (before April 1990, defined as 15 hours or more). 
  • had a job but were not at work due to: 
    - own illness or injury 
    - personal or family responsibilities 
    - bad weather or mechanical breakdown 
    - direct involvement in industrial dispute 
    - leave or holiday.


Ethnicity is the ethnic group or groups that people identify with or feel they belong to. Ethnicity is a measure of cultural affiliation, as opposed to race, ancestry, nationality, or citizenship. Ethnicity is self-perceived and people can belong to more than one ethnic group.

An ethnic group is made up of people who have some or all of the following characteristics: 

  • a common proper name 
  • one or more elements of common culture which need not be specified, but may include religion, customs, or language 
  • unique community of interests, feelings and actions 
  • a shared sense of common origins or ancestry 
  • a common geographic origin.

Please note that in the 2006 Census, the ethnicity classification incorporated the ‘New Zealander’ category in the ‘other ethnicity’ ethnic group, as this category accounted for 11 percent of the total population. Before that, it was included in the European ethnic group. In this report, the New Zealander group has been included under the European ethnic group for time series analysis.

Full-time and part-time employment

Full-time employment is defined as 30 hours or more of work per week. Part-time employment is defined as less than 30 hours of work per week. The total number of hours worked per week does not have to be in a single job – for example, a person who is employed full-time may work 20 hours in one job and 15 hours in a different job.

Please note that the 1986 and 1991 Censuses collected data about actual hours worked in the previous week. From 1996, the census collected data about usual hours worked in the previous week.

Labour force

Members of the working-age population who during their survey reference week are classified as employed or unemployed.

Labour force participation rate

The labour force participation rate is the percentage of the working-age population (people aged 15 years and over) who were either employed or unemployed. The calculation for labour force participation rate excludes people with a work and labour force status of 'unidentifiable'.

Life course

Life course theory focuses on the diversity of experiences and differences in the courses of people’s lives. It claims that contemporary experience is more diverse and less predictable than traditional concepts of the ‘life-cycle’.

Living independently

Independent living occurs when a young person transitions from the status of dependent child within a family of origin to an autonomous and self-sufficient adult. This transitional stage to adulthood is typified by the young person accepting increased personal responsibility and control of individual decision-making. The length of time that makes up this transitional stage is not predetermined, and may include various markers that progress the young person toward independent adulthood. These events may be experienced individually or may overlap. They include: 

  • residential independence 
  • financial independence 
  • parenthood 
  • full-time employment 
  • marriage or partnering.

Real median income

Real median income is one measure of the central tendency of income. Real median income is calculated by ranking incomes from highest to lowest and selecting the middle value.

Real median incomes calculated from census income ranges are estimates. Real median income values are rounded to the nearest hundred dollars, however, percentage calculations for real median incomes are calculated on the unrounded medians.

Real median income has been adjusted using the 2006 consumers price index to express medians from past census years in 2006 dollars. This ensures comparability of real median incomes across all censuses.

Other tertiary education providers (OTEPs)

Organisations that deliver programmes of tertiary education or in support of tertiary education of some national significance, and are recognised by the Minister of Education under section 321 of the Education Act 1989.

Persons not in the labour force

Any person in the working-age population who is neither employed nor unemployed, as defined in employed and unemployed, is deemed to be not in the labour force. This category includes, for example: 

  • retired people 
  • people with personal or family responsibilities such as unpaid housework and childcare 
  • people attending educational institutions 
  • people permanently unable to work due to physical or mental disabilities 
  • people who were temporarily unavailable for work in the survey reference week 
  • people who are not actively seeking work.

Private training establishments (PTEs)

Defined in the Education Act 1989 as ‘an establishment, other than a public tertiary education institution, that provides post-school education or vocational training’. PTEs include not only privately-owned providers, but also those operated by iwi, trusts, and other organisations.

Sources of personal income

For this report, income sources have been grouped into four main income categories: no income, wages and salaries, government benefits (including all types of government benefits), and other (including self-employment, interest, dividends, and rent). Specific analysis about government benefits includes four selected benefits only: the unemployment, sickness or invalids, and domestic purposes benefits, as well as the student allowance. People in receipt of a main government benefit (excluding student allowance) are entitled to receive one main benefit at a time. The total response nature of the question, and the fact that it covers the 12 months leading up to census day, means that people may have been counted in more than one of these categories. 

Study participation

Study participation collects information about those attending, studying, or enrolled at school or anywhere else. In the 1996 Census, the study participation question asked respondents if they were attending or studying for a full-time course, a part-time course, or neither of these. In 2006, the question asked respondents if they were studying full-time, part-time, or not studying. Also, in 2006, full-time study was defined as 20 hours or more a week.

Total personal income

Information on total personal income received is collected from individuals and represents the before-tax income for the respondent in the 12 months before the census. To overcome collection difficulties, total personal income is collected as an income range rather than an actual dollar income.


All people in the working-age population who during their reference week were without a paid job, were available for work and: 

  • had actively sought work in the past four weeks ending with the reference week 
  • had a new job to start within four weeks.

A person whose only job search method in the last four weeks has been to look at job advertisements in the newspapers is not considered to be actively seeking work.

Unemployment rate

The number of unemployed persons expressed as a percentage of the labour force.


A public tertiary institution that provides programmes with an emphasis on the application of knowledge of āhuatanga Māori (Māori traditions) according to tikanga Māori (Māori custom).

Work and labour force status

Work and labour force status classifies people aged 15 years and over according to their inclusion or exclusion from the labour force. For people who are employed, it distinguishes whether they are employed full-time (30 hours or more per week) or part-time (fewer than 30 hours per week). For people who are not employed, it classifies them as either 'unemployed' or not in the labour force'.

Young person

A person aged between 15 and 24 years.

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