Tuesday, March 7 was Census Day, but there are still 490,000 people across New Zealand who have not completed it. Clutha Leader reporter Nick Brook takes a closer look.

Census collectors in the Clutha area have started making home visits and are helping people who have not yet filled out their census forms.

A local census collector who did not want to be named said a lot of what they did was visit remote areas with less reliable postal services such as Bull Creek or Tokomairiro Mouth.

‘‘We find there are new dwellings and ones that have become vacant, and we work a lot with people at retirement homes or temporary accommodation like hotels.’’

Otakou area manager Siale Tunoka said he hoped as many people as possible had completed their census when they received their forms, because prompt completion meant fewer non-responding households to be visited after Census Day.

‘‘This was especially important this year, so we could pivot to support areas impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle.

Households will be getting a reminder letter and locations, such as public libraries, which can offer language support, are still available for anyone to seek assistance. It is a legal requirement to participate in the national census.

The aim is was to take a snapshot of the country on Census Day, March 7, so regardless of what day people fill out their forms, they are asked to answer the questions as if it was March 7.

‘‘Census collects the latest information about communities around Aotearoa. It’s the only survey that includes everyone in New Zealand,’’ Mr Tunoka said,

‘‘Iwi, community groups, local and central government, and businesses use census information to make decisions about services that affect you and your community, like health, schools and public transport, so taking part to ensures you’re represented in the data (and) a better understanding of communities and what they need is created.’’

Responses are combined to produce aggregated data — statistics that provide a picture of life throughout New Zealand and how it changes over time.

Protecting privacy is of utmost importance to Stats NZ, who are required by law to keep all information confidential.

Identifying information of individuals, groups and organisations is never shared, and this includes with government organisations like the Ministry for Social Development, Kâinga Ora, Police, or Inland Revenue.

‘‘We make sure no-one can find out anything about you, where you live, or the people you know.’’

Census 2023 was the first to ask about gender and sexual identity.

‘‘The aim is to make it the most inclusive yet. Gender is a core demographic concept used across the output data. It’s therefore important we have a gender recorded for everyone to ensure we can produce accurate information about the population overall,’’ Mr Tunoka said.

• Of the 3.2 million people that have already completed their individual forms to date, 91% completed the forms online, and 9% used the paper forms.

‘We make sure no-one can find out anything about you.

Census reminder

• As of Monday evening, 490,000 people across New Zealand had not completed their census.

• A reminder letter is being sent to those people this week.

• Census collectors have started visiting households to follow up with people who have not yet competed their census forms.

• If people do not want to wait until a census collector to visit, they can call 0800 CENSUS for help to complete their census forms.

There is a range of useful information, including in different languages and accessible formats, on the census website at census. govt.nz or phone 0800 CENSUS (0800 236 787).