Retirement Life
27 February 2023

2023 Census: what you need to know

The census is a once-in-a-five-year event that gives us the most complete picture of life around Aotearoa New Zealand and in each of our communities. By doing the census, we help to create a clearer picture of the needs of our families and communities. This, in turn, helps government departments, councils, iwi and businesses to respond to these needs and ensure services and funding are targeted to those who need them.


Questions focus on the characteristics of the people in New Zealand, including age, gender, ethnicity, language, housing, education, employment and income. And because the census is so important, the law requires us all to do it. Every person who is in Aotearoa New Zealand on the night of Tuesday 7 March 2023, must take part in the 2023 Census.

Behind the scenes

An enormous amount of work and planning has been happening behind the scenes over the past few years in preparation for the 2023 Census.


Community engagement teams have been working locally with community leaders, organisations and iwi for many months to build awareness and understanding of the census. Stats NZ also has a number of partnerships in place to assist with improving the response rate from groups in the population that have historically had a lower response rate.


A big part of the work has been recruiting and training the census collectors in their communities, who are delivering census forms and materials and helping people complete the census. “Our collectors are local people who have connections with, and a good understanding of, their neighbourhood,” explains Toni Carroll, 2023 Census Regional Operations Manager – Southern.


The delivery of the census packs to go to households through Aotearoa New Zealand will happen either by hand through a census collector, or through the mail. “There has also been a lot of work in preparing and delivering census support for non-private dwellings, such as retirement homes, hospitals and hotels,” says Toni.

Project your fortnightly, tax-paid, retirement income

Access for all

If you’re wondering what to do about elderly relatives who live in retirement homes or rest-care facilities, Stats NZ is providing support to these places, so their residents can participate in the census. Dedicated census collectors will deliver census packs – including paper forms, internet access codes and return envelopes – to retirement villages and rest homes. These census collectors will also help staff understand how they can support residents in doing the census.


Accessibility is a priority for the 2023 Census. There is a focus on supporting people who may have experienced barriers to participation – including older people – to fully participate in the census with independence and dignity.


For the first time, a Large Print version of the census form is available. Audio information is also available, and people can listen to the audio files on the census website or request these on CD or USB stick. For Braille users, hard copy information can be requested, which includes a Braille copy of the census letter and the questions. All the alternate formats are available by calling 0800 CENSUS (0800 236 787) or going to the census website.


Stats NZ is also partnering with organisations such as Age Concern and SeniorNet, to support older people with the census. Your local branch of these organisations, or your local library and Citizens Advice Bureau, can also offer help. You don’t need to take anything with you, but if you have your census letter with an access code, that can help. Find your nearest location for support here.

Looking for work?

Stats NZ is still on the lookout for census collectors, and retired people are welcome to apply. The hours can be flexible, with part-time options available. For more information, look online.

What happens next?

And what happens to all the data after Census Day? Following the collection period, important steps involving data processing and analysis must be completed, before the data can be published. Stats NZ is aiming to publish the first release of census data in early 2024.


For those concerned about privacy, this is of utmost importance to Stats NZ. Stats NZ has processes and systems to store data securely and to protect your identity when census data is released. The information from census forms is combined to produce what is called aggregated data. By combining your data with everyone else’s before it is released publicly, Stats NZ makes sure no one can find out anything about you, where you live, or the people you live with. Stats NZ never shares information that identifies you with any individual, group, or organisation. This includes government organisations like the Ministry for Social Development, Kāinga Ora, Immigration, or Inland Revenue. Individuals cannot be identified in published statistics or research.

Take control of your retirement income

You can do the census as soon as you get your forms and instructions – you don’t have to wait until Census Day, and you can choose to do the census online or on paper. Look out for deliveries starting now and play your part in shaping the future of our country.


For more information, visit the Census website here.

Photo of Kathy Catton
Written by:

Kathy Catton

Kathy Catton is a freelance writer and editor, based on the Banks Peninsula. She is an experienced feature writer, magazine editor and copywriter. Quick to grasp the crux of any story and tell it in plain English, Kathy enjoys bringing stories to readers that surprise and delight.

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