Census usually resident population count (information about this variable and its quality)

Variable Description

Census usually resident population count (information about this variable and its quality) en-NZ
Census usually resident population count (information about this variable and its quality) en-NZ

The census usually resident population count of New Zealand is a count of all people who usually live in and were present in New Zealand on census night. It excludes overseas visitors and New Zealand residents who are temporarily overseas.

The census usually resident population count of an area (subnational count) is a count of all people who usually live in that area and were present in New Zealand on census night. It excludes visitors from overseas, visitors from elsewhere in New Zealand, and residents temporarily overseas on census night.

For example, a person who usually lives in Christchurch city and is visiting Wellington city on census night will be included in the census usually resident population count of Christchurch city.

Other Variable Information

Priority level

Priority level 1

We assign a priority level to all census variables: Priority 1, 2, or 3 (with 1 being highest and 3 being the lowest priority).

The census usually resident population count has a priority level of 1. Priority 1 variables are core census variables that have the highest priority in terms of quality, time, and resources across all phases of a census.

The priority level for the census usually resident population count remains the same as 2013.

Quality Management Strategy has more information on the priority rating.

Overall quality rating for 2018 Census

Very high quality

Data quality processes section below has more detail on the rating for this variable.

The External Data Quality Panel has provided an independent assessment of the quality of this variable and has rated it as very high quality. Initial Report of the 2018 Census External Data Quality Panel has more information.

Subject population

Census usually resident population

‘Subject population’ means the people, families, households, or dwellings to whom the variable applies.

How this data is classified

The census usually resident population count is a count of forms received plus administrative enumerated records, that is, a count of unit records.

No classification is used for the count.

However, when the count is applied to different subpopulations (for example a certain ethnic group, age group, or sex) the relevant classification for that subpopulation is used.

Question format

The census usually resident population count is collected on the household set-up form and question 4 on the individual paper form.

Stats NZ Store House has samples for both the individual and dwelling paper forms.


  • respondents were asked to confirm the census night address linked to their access code
  • once they confirmed the address, they could refer to this address when answering the usual residence question
  • if their usual residence address was different from the one where they were on census night, they could start typing the address and select the address from an as-you-type list.

On paper:

  • respondents indicated they were usual residents of New Zealand by:
  • ticking the tick box for ‘In New Zealand’ or
  • providing a valid New Zealand address in the text box.
  • non-response, multiple response, and responses outside the valid range were possible on the paper individual form.

In 2018, overseas visitors were only required to enter their country of residence and not a street address. This is a change from the 2013 Census when overseas visitors were required to give a full address

How this data is used

Outside Stats NZ

  • To formulate, monitor, and evaluate central and local government policy.
  • By businesses to determine target markets.

Within Stats NZ

  • As a critical input to population estimates and projections, providing information on how communities are changing.
  • To support the electoral boundary setting process.

2018 data sources

We used alternative data sources for missing census responses and responses that could not be classified or did not provide the type of information asked for. Where possible, we used responses from the 2013 Census, administrative data from the Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI), or imputation.

The table below shows the breakdown of the various data sources used for this variable.

2018 Census usually resident population count –
census usually resident population
Source Percent
Response 88.8 percent
Admin enumeration 11.2 percent
Total 100.0 percent
Due to rounding, individual figures may not always sum to the stated total(s)

Admin enumerated records were added to the census file to count people who were missed. Data from the range of sources available in the IDI was used.

Addition of administrative records to the New Zealand 2018 Census dataset: An overview of statistical methods has more information on the methodology.

Please note that when examining census usually resident population data for specific population groups within the subject population, the percentage that is admin enumerated may differ from that for the overall subject population.

Missing and residual responses

There is no non-response for the census usually resident population count.

  • In the 2018 Census, we used admin enumerated records for missing responses.
  • In 2013, we created substitute individual forms for missing responses.

2013 Census data user guide provides more information about non-response and imputation in the 2013 Census.

Data quality processes

Overall quality rating: Very high quality

Data was evaluated to assess whether it meets quality standards and is suitable for use.

Three quality metrics contributed to the overall quality rating:

  • data sources and coverage
  • consistency and coherence
  • data quality.

The lowest rated metric determines the overall quality rating.

Data quality assurance for 2018 Census provides more information on the quality rating scale.

Data sources and coverage: Very high quality

We have assessed the quality of all the data sources that contribute to the output for the variable. To calculate a data sources and coverage quality score for a variable, each data source is rated and multiplied by the proportion it contributes to the total output.

The metric 1 rating for the census usually resident population count is the same as for usual residence address because the two variables are closely linked.

2018 Usual residence information by variable has more information on the quality rating calculation.

Consistency and coherence: Very high quality

The data was highly consistent with expectations across all consistency checks. However, while comparisons at higher geographies were consistent with expectations, there are a small number of areas that vary from expectations at Statistical Area 2 and meshblock level, for example more growth than expected. However, these variations from expectations are mainly due to real-world change – for example new subdivisions leading to an increase of usual residents in an area.

Overall, despite the low response rate, changes from previous censuses are in line with expectations. Quality was improved by:

  • the use of access codes with pre-populated addresses
  • the as-you-type lists to collect address information
  • changes to the census collection methodology which added records from administrative data to the count.

Data quality: Very high quality

Census usually resident population counts down to the meshblock level, and for higher geographies, are very high quality.

Recommendations for use and further information

The overall quality of the census usually resident population count data is very high and comparable with 2006 and 2013 data.

Contact our Information Centre for further information about using this variable.

This variable is not part of a dataset.


Aggregation Method


Conceptual Variable



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Revision Date Responsibility Rationale
9 30/11/2021 2:59:18 PM