6 Jul 2011

Government considering 10-year census

9:07 pm on 6 July 2011

A population studies professor says the Government needs to be cautious about holding a census every 10 years instead of every five.

The survey was to have been held this year but was delayed until 2013 due to earthquake damage to Statistics New Zealand's office in Christchurch where the results would have been processed.

Statistics Minister Maurice Williamson says he is looking at whether a census every five years is necessary.

The director of the Population Studies Centre at Waikato University says the data collected is used in a variety of ways, including setting funding for health boards and making projections for school rolls.

Professor Richard Bedford says without a census every five years, it would be extremely hard to keep track of what is happening with New Zealand's small and very mobile population.

"The other thing is, we have a population that is very much affected by international migration and if we don't keep reasonable track of what's happening ... then we're likely to fall into some pretty unhelpful stereotypes about the way our population is changing."