New Zealand Income Survey

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The New Zealand Income Survey produces a comprehensive range of annual income statistics. This allows analysis of the links between labour force status, educational achievement and income of individuals and households, both at an aggregate level and for sub-populations of interest.


The purpose of the New Zealand Income Survey (NZIS) is to produce income statistics alongside information about personal and household characteristics. This provides detailed information about the income of different groups and allows comparison for any group across time. The New Zealand Income Survey is conducted every June quarter as a supplement to the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS). It was run for the first time in the June 1997 quarter. It collects pre-tax income information on self-employment, wages and salaries, government transfers, other transfers (ie. private superannuation or pension schemes, annuities, and investments). Investment income was not collected until 2002, when a set of questions were developed to collect this information. It is important to understand that the income reported in the tables prior to 2002 may not represent the entire income of an individual or a household.

Citation Information


New Zealand Income Survey

Alternate Title

Income Supplement Income Supplement to Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) Income Survey IS NZIS


Statistics New Zealand

Coverage Information

Temporal Coverage

  • 1997 to present

Topical Coverage

  • Labour
  • Economic accounts
  • Income and consumption
  • Social protection
  • Gender pay gap
  • Regional income
  • Earnings
  • Weekly income
  • All sources of income
  • Maori income


Significant events impacting this study series

The New Zealand Income Survey was run for the first time in the June 1997 quarter (April to June) as a supplement to the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS). These first results were published on 11th December 1997.

Changes made for the 1998 survey For the June 1998 quarter the New Zealand Income Survey questionnaire was redeveloped. The biggest changes were made to the wage and salary section of the questionnaire with only minor changes being made to the self-employment and government transfer sections.

An ACC question was added to the beginning of the questionnaire to determine if a respondent, who was away from their job due to sickness or injury, was receiving any ACC payments. A question asking those who were in self-employment if they had been self-employed for 12 months or more was added. The wage and salary section of the questionnaire was divided into three parts. Respondents were given the choice of reporting their wage and salary income on the basis of what they received last pay period or by reporting their hourly rate or by giving their annual salary. In the hourly rate section, a grid was introduced to better collect respondents' different hourly rates and associated hours worked. Additional changes to the wage and salary section included the addition of check questions to enforce interviewers to check with respondents that they had written down the correct information and additional interviewer notes throughout the questions were added. Grids were implemented in the 'other' income section to aid the collection of private superannuation or pension schemes and annuities where a respondent had more than one.

In the June 1998 quarter, the Household Labour Force Survey data was revised using population weights based on the 1996 Census of Population and Dwellings. This meant the June 1997 quarter New Zealand Income Survey results needed to be revised using the new population weights. The June 1997 results were re-released along with the June 1998 results on 19th November 1998.

Changes made for the 1999 survey The questionnaire was split into two. Questionnaire 1 contained the self-employment, wages and salaries for job 1, government transfers, and other transfers sections. Questionnaire 2 contained the wages and salaries sections for jobs 2 and 3. This second questionnaire therefore, only needed to be used if the respondent had more than one wage and salary job. An additional question was added to the self-employment section which used a flowchart to encourage those self-employed who didn't know their exact net profit to give a best estimate. Questions at the very beginning of the questionnaire which were used to determine the respondents' status in employment and occupation were deleted and taken straight from the Household Labour Force Survey. The WINZ income section of the questionnaire was revised to include the introduction of the Community Wage Scheme and the change from New Zealand Income Support Service to Work and Income New Zealand.

Changes made for the 2000 survey Updated various ministry and department titles. Clarification of questions by adding examples and extending explanations. Updated the names of payments from Inland Revenue Department from Independent Family Tax Credit to Child Tax Credit, and from Guaranteed Minimum Family Income to family Tax Credit. Also, Parental Tax Credit was added because it was brought into being in October 1999. The question for net profit from self-employment was changed slightly for better clarification.

Changes made for the 2001 survey Questions 27, 38, 46, 91, 102, 110, 155, 166, 174 were redesigned to stop the risk of double counting. This involved splitting the affected questions into two parts so that each question has an (a) component which checks what the respondent has included in the main question. For example question 27 was split into question 27 and question 27a.

Changes made for the 2002 survey The biggest change was the introduction of 9 new questions on investment income. The inclusion of investment income means that the survey covers all significant sources of household income. The introduction of income from investments has caused a discontinuity in time series for the 'all sources' category. Prior to 2002, this category included wages and salaries, self-employment, government transfers and other transfers. In 2002 it also included income from investments and so is not comparable with previous years.

As well as the introduction of questions on investment income several other minor changes were made to the questionnaire for the 2002 survey. These were: Benefit names were changed to reflect changes made to the benefit system The inclusion of 'Calendar Month' and '4 Weeks' as options in the questions relating to what time period did the income cover. Questions 227, 228 and 229 became questions 236, 237 and 238 as the investment income questions became 227 - 235.

Changes made for the 2003 survey A new answer option for Paid Parental Leave was added to the list of IRD payments in Question 211. In the March 2003 quarter a change was made to the processing of industry statistics. A more up-to-date coding system was introduced which led to an improvement in the quality of industry information. A slight discontinuity may have been introduced to some industry series. For more information see the March 2003 quarter Household Labour Force Survey. The estimates of income were improved by changing the conversion factor used to calculate gross (before tax) income from net (after tax) income where only net income was provided by respondents. This change affected income from government transfers and, consequently, income from all sources. The following derived variables were affected: DV7 – Income from ACC DV8 – Selected WINZ payments DV11 - Student Allowances (gross) DV12 - NZ Superannuation and Veterans Benefit (gross) DV13 -Total Transfer Income (gross) excludes ACC DV16 - Total Income from All Sources.

In the June 2003 quarter, the Household Labour Force Survey data was revised using population weights based on the 2001 Census of Population and Dwellings. This meant previous New Zealand Income Survey results needed to be revised using the new population weights. These results were re-released along with the June 2003 results.

Changes made for the 2004 survey Added two questions about the 'number of business owners' and 'what was your share' to the self employment income questions. Added an 'abc' numbering format to the 'how much was your latest pay' wages and salary question. Updated the response options in the payments from Work and Income question. Amended the wording in the 'what was the amount' and 'how many weeks did that payment cover' questions. Changed the wording of the investment income question asking 'was this joint income'.

Changes made for the 2005 survey In the June 2005 quarter computer assisted interviewing (CAI) was implemented into the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) and New Zealand Income Survey (NZIS). The CAI strategy involves a change in mode of data collection from traditional pen and paper interviewing to computer assisted personal interviewing (CAPI) for newly selected households, and a change from decentralised telephone interviewing to centralised computer assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) for the remaining households in the sample. The main benefits of CAI are improved data quality through better controlled interviews and modest resource savings through the elimination of some processing steps and the centralisation of others.

Computer assisted interviewing is being phased in, commencing with one-eighth of the sample for the June 2005 quarter. Estimates for the CAI part of the sample have been compared to the estimates from the remainder of the sample and no statistically significant effect resulting from the change in mode of data collection was detected. CAI was fully implemented in the September 2006 quarter for the HLFS and in the June 2007 quarter for the NZIS.

As a result of the move to CAI the HLFS and NZIS questionnaires changed subtly. The aim was to keep the electronic questionnaire as close to previous pen and paper questionnaires as possible. A few new routing questions were added to the NZIS and some existing questions had the options "Don’t Know" or "Refuse to answer" added.

Changes made for the 2006 survey Updated of Inland Revenue payments for name changes. Child Tax Credit was changed to In-Work payment. Updated Q237 (income band question) to match the 2006 Census income question.

In the June 2006 quarter, four-eighths of the sample were interviewed via CATI.

Changes made for the 2007 survey A new question was introduced to improve routing for the wages and salary questions. The question asks whether the respondent wishes to give information about their wages either; weekly, hourly or annually, which then directs the interviewer to the usual pay section, hourly rate section or annual salary section of the questionnaire as appropriate. Inland Revenue and Work and Income payments were updated to reflect name changes

For the June 2007 quarter CAI implementation was complete in the NZIS, with CATI representing seven-eighths of the sample and the newly selected households again interviewed via CAPI.

Changes made for the 2008 survey The order and names of sources of investment income were changed. The option 'returns from managed funds' was renamed 'returns from other types of managed funds' moved after 'returns from unit trusts'

For the 2008 release there was a greater emphasis on median incomes than in previous releases because extreme high or low amounts tend to have less influence on median amounts than on average (mean) figures. Median figures were added to the majority of tables. The order of some of the tables was reorganised and some that were previously in the Hot Off The Press main tables were moved to the supplementary tables.

Changes made for the 2009 survey For the June 2009 quarter no changes were made to the New Zealand Income Survey questionnaire. The method of publishing data on ethnicity was changed from being prioritised ethnicity to being total response ethnicity. For more information on this change please see the NZ income survey June 2009 quarter technical notes of the hot off the press (information release).

Changes made for the 2010 survey 1. Q220, receipt of New Zealand Superannuation, was changed so that only people aged 50 years and over at the start of the reference week needed to answer this question. 2. To improve flow in the telephone interviews Q208, payments and benefits from WINZ, were split into two questions. 3. Q227 income from investments was refined. The little used options were dropped, and main investment income types were separated out from bank interest. The dropped options were quoted as examples of potential other sources of investment income.
4. Occupation and Industry were updated to the ANZSCO and ANZSIC standards respectively in order to be consistent with the HLFS. For more information on this change please see the NZ income survey June 2010 quarter technical notes of the hot off the press (information release).

Changes made for the 2011 survey 1. The NZIS made more use of dependent data collected in the HLFS. Q1 (worked for pay or profit) and Q2 (away from work because of illness) in the NZIS were no longer asked of respondents. The information was instead brought through from Q10 and Q11 in the HLFS. Both pairs of quesitons ask about work for pay and absence from work due to illness in the last week. This reduced repetition between the two surveys. 2. Q223 (private superannuation received) was only asked of respondents aged 50 years and over. 3. Q237 (income bands question) was split into two parts. The first is an open ended question that asks respondents to estimate their total annual income before tax from all sources. This figure is recorded to the nearest dollar. If this question was answered "don't know" or the respondent refused to answer then the original income bands question (part two) was asked. 4. The Income bands question was updated to reflect the bands that would have been used in the 2011 Census. 5. Bookmarks were added to the questions about ACC payments received - Q206 and Q207. 6. Blaise Remarks were added to the questionnaire. Remarks allow interviewers to comment on particularly high, low or unusual values. 7. Commas were added to the dollar field questions in the Blaise questionnaire allowing interviewers to easily identify the amounts that have been input.

Changes made for the 2012 survey 1. More information was added in Help-text 2. Income bands representative values were changed in the annual income questions. 3. Created a bottom Edit for question 237. Income less than $-1,000,000 will trigger a warning message.

Changes made for the 2013 survey 1. The bands in the self-employment unfolding brackets section were updated to reflect changes in the pattern of self-employment income received. Previously, the values started at greater or less than $30,000. As of 2013, the values began at $35,000. 3. The Blaise questionnaire edits for high Superannuation and Veteran's pension amounts were updated to reflect increases in the amount received from these sources. 4. The highest qualification categories were updated to be categorised by the level of qualification gained rather than type of qualification. For more information please see the NZ income survey June 2013 quarter data quality section of the information release.

Usage and limitations of the data


Examples of possible questions the survey data will help to address are:

  1. How is an individual's income made up from different sources? Wages and salaries Self-employment Government transfers Investments

  2. How is an individual's income related to their demographics? Age Sex Ethnicity Highest qualification Geographical region

  3. How do the incomes of households compare across household type? One person household Couple only household Couple with dependent children One parent with dependent children

  4. What are the average and median hourly earnings in wage and salary jobs?

  5. How does the income of individuals compare across labour force participation? Employed Unemployed Not in the labour force


The introduction of income from investment in 2002 caused a discontinuity in time series for the 'all sources' category. Prior to 2002, this category included wages and salaries, self-employment, government transfers and other transfers. Since 2002, it has also included income from investment and so is not comparable with previous years.

High sampling errors are associated with small estimates - this makes many of the smaller estimates unreliable or unusable.

Prior to the 2009, ethnicity data was collected using the prioritised response method. From 2009 onwards, ethnicity information has been collected using the total response method. This has caused a discontinuity in the time series for ethnicity data.

Prior to 2010, industry and occupation were collected using the classifications ANZSIC96 (industry) and NZSCO95 (occupation). In 2010 the industry and occupation classifications were updated to ANZSIC06 (industry) and ANZSCO (occupation).

Prior to 2013, highest qualification data was output into categories based on qualification type. In 2013 the highest qualification categories were changed to be based on qualification level. This has caused a discontinuity in the time series for highest qualification data.

Main users of the data

There are two main groups of NZIS users:

  1. People who monitor the labour market either in itself or as part of macroeconomic analysis of the economy. For example, government departments (e.g. Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment, Treasury, and the Ministry of Social Development), private research companies, and academics.

  2. People who monitor incomes for different groups of the population. For example, Ministry of Women's Affairs, Retirement Commission, Te Puni Kokiri, private research companies, and academics.


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