New Zealand’s five-yearly census will still go ahead for roughly four in five New Zealanders, Stats NZ says, but it’s unclear how the count will move forward in regions ravaged by Cyclone Gabrielle.
Stats NZ Chief Executive Mark Sowden said the organisation is, “considering a range of options that take into account the needs of people and communities impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle, sentiment of impacted communities, and the impacts on data quality".
Questions had been raised about whether the census could take place, given the more pressing needs of communities affected and cut-off by the weather.
“Our thoughts are with all the people impacted by the terrible events of last week,” said Sowden.
“As soon as we are able to confirm our approach for undertaking the 2023 Census in these communities we will - but only after the immediate wellbeing and welfare needs of people are dealt with first.”
The census has only been cancelled three times in New Zealand’s history; in 1931 after the Great Depression, in 1941 as a result of World War II, and in 2011 following the Canterbury quakes which killed 185 people.
A cancellation would require the five-yearly cycle to be reset, likely needing legislation.
For most New Zealanders, census packs are due to arrive in the mail this week.
Thousands remain unaccounted for after the tropical cyclone swept through the North Island, killing at least 11 people, with more feared dead.