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Cancelled census cost $65 million

Wednesday 2 Jan 2013 8:41 a.m.

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By 3 News online staff

The 2011 census, cancelled in the wake of the devastating February earthquake in Christchurch, cost $65 million – though not a single piece of data was collected.

Statistics New Zealand says the money was spent primarily on contractors, of which there were more than 7000, who had already delivered census forms to half a million homes.

The census was supposed to happen on March 8, 2011. It will now be held in March of this year with a budget of $90 million – though because much of the preparation has already been done, Statistics NZ says it is more likely to cost around $72 million.

The lack of fresh data could be costing the country even more though, as some government ministries are currently relying on seven-year-old figures to allocate funding.

"Billions in funding allocated is based on census data," Census 2013 general manager Carol Slappendel told Fairfax.

"But when you get to year five, six, seven out, the variability in the reliability starts to increase."

This is a particular problem in New Zealand because of our high internal mobility – more than half of all Kiwis moved house between 2001 and 2006.

"As the population changes, areas grow and others get smaller, it is important we are using our scarce resources in areas of need," says Ms Slappendel.

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