Fears census results will be hindered by anti-Government sentiment

The government's census campaign is underway with Stats NZ promising big improvements after the debacle of 2018.

A damning review found the previous census was too complex, ineffective and there weren't enough staff on the ground.

Get ready New Zealand - it's census time. The census collects important data about households by surveying the whole population.

In 2018 the census shifted online - only 3 percent of Kiwis received paper forms. A report later found huge problems with that approach, so this year 44 percent of the population will get paper surveys.

"I would like to fill it out on paper. I'm old-fashioned you know," one person said.

"It's easier online but you feel more secure if you do it on a paper form," another added.

In particular, Māori and Pasifika were impacted by the poor execution of our last census.

"We've got a high degree of confidence that we've got a really good plan for the census and we've got some great people that've been working behind the scenes for the past five years learning from those lessons in 2018," said Simon Mason from Stats NZ.

But they have new challenges too, including an increase in anti-government sentiment.

"We're going to see a lot more hostility, a lot more communities and a lot more households saying, 'No, we do not want to give the government any data on ourselves'," said sociologist and Professor Emeritus Paul Spoonley.

"I do think safety, and the safety of in this case, our census collectors, is a major issue."

Stats NZ has prepared its front-line workers by building a panic alarm into their lone worker app.

"We give them training, we give them an app and we give them the ability to phone for help if they need to," Mason said.

The census budget has doubled from 2018 to $251 million, which means double the number of staff will be getting out to deliver census forms and help people out.

So that come census day on March 7, all New Zealanders will be counted.