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Census Dress Rehearsal Announced for March 2005

Census Dress Rehearsal Announced for March 2005

Next month, Statistics New Zealand will undertake its last big test to ensure next year's census goes smoothly. While the 2006 Census of Population and Dwellings will count everyone in New Zealand, this year's dress rehearsal on Tuesday, 8 March 2005 will involve just 13,000 households in five areas across New Zealand.

The households, spread across the Northland region (Kaitaia, Hokianga and Whangarei), Manukau, Manawatu, Blenheim and Oamaru, have been specially selected to provide a range of populations to test the design of the census forms and the methods of delivering, collecting and processing them.

Government Statistician Brian Pink stresses the important role played by the dress rehearsal. "The census is the key source of information about the people living in our cities, towns, suburbs and rural communities, and provides information that is vital for local communities, planners and decision-makers. The census is a major undertaking and it is important to get it right. The dress rehearsal is an invaluable part of planning for census day and ensures that the forms are as easy to understand as possible and that processes run smoothly."

Statistics New Zealand conducts a number of tests involving local communities in preparation for the census, and is hoping that the response from the public will be just as positive for the dress rehearsal, which is the final large scale test. "Although participation in the dress rehearsal is voluntary, the contribution of all the selected households will be important in making the 2006 Census work well," said Brian Pink. Census day will be Tuesday 7 March 2006.All households that have been selected to take part in the dress rehearsal will be notified by letter. Everyone staying in one of the households selected for this test on dress rehearsal night is being asked to take part in the test, even if they are only visiting.

Collectors will be calling on these households from around 21 February to deliver the forms. After dress rehearsal day on Tuesday 8 March, collectors will be calling on households to collect the completed forms (up until Friday 18 March). Statistics New Zealand has set up a toll-free Helpline 0508 CENSUS (0508 236 787) to help those taking part in the dress rehearsal.

The dress rehearsal will trial an on-line census form, which the public will be able to complete on the Internet for the first time in the 2006 Census. The on-line form is available in English and Mäori and the paper form will be available in English and bilingual versions. All households that choose to complete paper forms in Northland areas will be delivered bilingual forms. In other areas, households completing paper forms will be offered the choice of English or bilingual forms.

As with the census proper, all information produced from the dress rehearsal is completely anonymous. No data from the rehearsal will be published, and, after testing is complete, all forms will be destroyed.

Ian Ewing
Acting Government Statistician

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