Index of historical census questions

The Index of historical census questions is a summary of the questions asked about individuals and dwellings in the European, Māori, and general New Zealand censuses since 1851. The index is made up of four tables:

  • European censuses from 1851-1945: includes questions asked in early household and personal schedules, exclusive of Māori population.
  • Māori censuses from 1858-1945: includes questions asked in early Māori census schedules.
  • Individual form from 1951-2018: includes questions related to individuals only.
  • Dwelling form from 1951-2018: includes questions related to dwellings only.

Key points to remember when reading these tables

  • Between 1851 and 1945, separate censuses of the European and Māori populations took place.
  • From 1916 to 1945, Māori in the South Island were counted in the European censuses.
  • In 1916, personal schedules were introduced for the first time, but only for non-private dwellings, such as hotels, ships, boarding houses, etc.
  • In 1926, personal schedules (now called individual forms) were introduced for all dwellings, both private and non-private, for the European census.
  • The same form has only been issued to both Māori and others since 1951.

We have made every effort to ensure that the information contained in the Index of historical questions is accurate. However, several of the historical census forms have not survived. For these years, we have relied on other sources, such as census reports and legislation, to indicate which questions were included on the early forms. It is important to note:

  • Examples of European census forms exist from 1851, 1906, and from 1916 to 2018.
  • Examples of Māori census forms exist from 1926 to 1945. A few Māori census forms have recently been found amongst various archival documents (1874, 1881, 1906, and 1921).
  • Where forms have survived, this is indicated with a darker colour.
  • Where there are no surviving forms, secondary sources have been reviewed to identify what questions were asked for that year. This is indicated with a lighter colour.
  • On the Individual form (1951-2018) table the question on usual residence five years ago is shaded grey for 2018 as the question was not asked on the individual form, instead the data was taken from the 2013 Census.
  • Blank cells (no shading) indicate that the question was either not asked or that we do not have any evidence to support that the question was asked.
  • A key is located in the top right-hand cell of the table.
  • Additional notes are below the table.