New Zealand Census of Population and Dwellings

New Zealand Census of Population and Dwellings

The New Zealand government department Statistics New Zealand conducts a census of population and dwellings every five years. The census scheduled for 2011 was cancelled due to circumstances surrounding the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake,[1] however, and legislation introduced to hold the next census in 2013.[2]


Census Date

The census officially occurs at midnight on a Tuesday in March. These are statistically the month and weekday on which New Zealanders are least likely to be travelling.

Conducting the Census

All census forms are hand-delivered by census workers during the lead-in to the census, with one form per person and a special form with questions about the dwelling. In addition, teams of census workers attempt to cover all hospitals, camp grounds, workplaces and transport systems where people might be found at midnight.

The smallest geographic unit used in the census for population data is the mesh block, which there are 39,300 of, with an average of 110 people in each. [1]


The first full census in New Zealand was conducted in 1851, and the census was triennial until 1881, at which time it became five-yearly. The 1931 census was cancelled due to the effects of the Great Depression, as was the 1941 census due to World War II. 1951 was the first year in which Māori and European New Zealanders were treated equally, with European New Zealanders having had a different census form in previous years and separate censuses in the nineteenth century.

2006 Census

The 2006 census was held on Tuesday, 7 March. For the first time, respondents had the option of completing their census form via the Internet rather than by a printed form.

2011 Census

The 2011 census was to be held on Tuesday, 8 March. However, due to the Christchurch earthquake on 22 February 2011, this was cancelled.[1]

For the first time ever, all 2011 Census forms would have been digitally archived.[3]

2013 Census

On 27 May 2011 Statistics New Zealand issued a press release stating that a census will now take place in March 2013.[4] The legislation required to change the census date was introduced to Parliament in August 2011.[5]

Evasion of the Census

There are a few people who object to the census and attempt to evade it. The most famous of these is The Wizard of New Zealand, Ian Brackenberry Channell, who has variously spent the night in a boat beyond New Zealand's 20 km territorial limit and presented affidavits from followers who believe that he 'magically disappeared' for the night.


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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