The census: Your questions answered

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What's the census?

The census is a survey of the nation that takes place every five years.

It provides Statistics NZ, and by extension, the Government, services, iwi and businesses, information about the people who live in New Zealand. 

Do I have to do it?

Yes. Everyone who is living in or visiting New Zealand on March 6 has to do the census. 

The idea is that it provides a snapshot of everyone in the nation, so if you're out of the country on that date, you do not fill it out. 

FACT: The Minister of Statistics James Shaw is on the Prime Minister's Pacific trip and isn't in New Zealand on March 6. Mr Shaw - as well as the Prime Minister - won't be filling out the census, even though it's the most important piece of information collected by his ministry.

But whyyyy?

The Census will help the Government see how things have changed since the last census.

The information is used to help inform decisions about allocating billions of dollars to things like roads, schools and public transport, so it's important it's filled out correctly.

When do I have to do it?

You need to complete your census on or by March 6.

All is not lost if you don't complete it in time - but you must fill it out as soon as possible.

How is this year's census different?

In the past, people visited houses, handing out census forms. This year, most home will not be visited. 

Instead, a letter was supposed to be sent to 96 percent of houses in February. The letter includes a unique access code you need to use to fill out a form online. 

The census: Your questions answered
Photo credit: Newshub.

What if I didn't get a form or I lost my code?

In remote areas, you should be visited by field staff door-to-door.

If you lost your code, you can ask for another by calling 0800 23 67 87. You may also be sent a new one by Stats NZ - they'll be keeping an eye on which addresses are yet to fill it out.

You can ask for a paper form by calling 0800 23 67 87. 

What if I don't do it?

Stats NZ will follow up with any households that haven't completed the census. You'll be redelivered a code within the next few days.

What are the three forms?

There's one form called a dwelling form, which is about the place you live. Only one person in the household fills out this form. It asks questions about things like heaters, the internet and a phone.

The other form is the individual form. Everyone in the household fills this form out. 

There's also a household summary form.

Is my personal information safe?

All Stats NZ employees and researchers have to sign a declaration of secrecy that lasts a lifetime. 

Stats NZ says not identifiable information is shared with other government agencies without consent, and anything published will not identify individuals. Information including names and addresses is removed from data before it's shared with other agencies.

Newshub.