2018 Census of Population and Dwellings
The 2018 Census was a modernised census based on models used in 2016 by the Canadian and Australian statistical agencies and then applied in the New Zealand context. We collaborated with census experts from both countries when designing our model.
Under the new model, how we enabled/collected from our respondents changed from predominately field-based activities to 80 percent mail-out with a reduced field presence and increased communications, marketing and engagement. The way respondents completed their forms also changed, with a greater focus on online completion over paper. The majority of the population was encouraged to complete the census online using an internet access code mailed to their households before census night. The new collection model therefore relied on the public to self-respond, rather than wait for a visit from field staff. Field follow-up activities were also planned.
The main areas of change were:
- phasing the model (prepare, enable, remind and visit)
- strategies used across the different phases
- mailing out “call to action” letters with an internet access code and instructions on how to order paper forms, if required, as the first interaction with census
- reducing the number of field staff, with a new structure and roles
- outsourcing the recruitment functions for field staff
- introducing new field technology
- creating a new address frame (a list of all dwellings in New Zealand)
- an integrated communications campaign including community engagement
- a new approach to processing the census data.
The new model brought new ways of working:
The focus on online and self-response meant we had an environment where field staff could work more flexibly and be more mobile when following up with non-responders.
There was an increased focus on targeted field strategies and engagement strategies. These were to ensure that areas of New Zealand and population groups who tended to not participate in the census were encouraged to take part and complete their census, either online or by completing a paper form.
Communications and marketing strategies were needed to explain the change and target households that would be completing the census online for the first time.