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Urban quality of life survey results announced


Urban quality of life survey results announced

The tough economic climate is having an effect on the quality of life of an increasing number of urban New Zealanders, according to the results of a nationwide survey released today.

The biennial Quality of Life survey measures the perceptions of over 5000 residents living in some of New Zealand’s largest urban areas (including Auckland, Wellington, Hutt, Porirua, Christchurch and Dunedin). Conducted by research company Nielsen, the survey is jointly funded by the relevant councils, and is part of the wider Quality of Life in New Zealand’s Largest Cities project.

Full results of the survey (7MB) can be emailed today but are subject to the same 5am Tuesday 26 February 2013 embargo. Otherwise the results will be posted on the Quality of Life Website: www.qualityoflifeproject.govt.nz from 12.01am Tuesday 26 February.

Fieldwork was conducted between August and October 2012.

A majority of respondents (80 percent) rated their overall quality of life positively. Just under a quarter (24 percent) of all respondents felt that their quality of life had increased compared to 12 months earlier, 55 percent felt that it had stayed the same and 21 percent felt that it had decreased to some extent. Perhaps not surprisingly, Christchurch respondents were significantly more likely than residents from the other urban areas (35 percent compared to 21 percent overall) to state that their quality of life had decreased in the previous year. This finding backs up results from the recently released CERA Wellbeing Survey, where 57 percent of Christchurch respondents said their quality of life had decreased since the earthquakes started in September 2010.

The Quality of Life Survey did not find any significant difference across the main urban areas in how often respondents had experienced stress in the previous year that had a negative impact on them (18 percent overall), or in general levels of happiness (72 percent said they were ‘very happy’ or ‘happy’) – these findings were remarkably consistent across all cities.

Under half (41 percent) of respondents across the urban areas said they had ‘more than enough’ or ‘enough’ money to meet their everyday needs for things such as accommodation, food, clothing and other necessities, a third (33 percent) said they had ‘just enough money’ and 22 percent that they did not have enough (up from 13 percent in 2010).

Garry Poole, Chief Executive of Wellington City Council and Quality of Life Project Sponsor, said the 2012 national results can generally be seen as positive when considered against a continuing difficult economic climate. “However it is clear that more people are finding it tough to make ends meet.”

Mr Poole says findings in some subject areas vary from city to city. "As in past years I urge observers not to treat this survey as some sort of league table.”


The majority (82 percent) of respondents viewed their health positively, responding with a rating of either excellent (15 percent), very good (31 percent), or good (36 percent). Almost one in five (18 percent) reported that there had been a time in the last 12 months when they had wanted to visit a GP or a doctor, but hadn’t – the main reason provided by 46 percent was that it was too costly or expensive to go to the doctor.

Almost all respondents felt safe in their homes during the day (96 percent) and after dark (90 percent). Residents of Wellington and Dunedin cities were most likely to feel safe in their homes after dark, or walking alone in their neighbourhood after dark. Feelings of overall safety in central city areas after dark were considerably lower with less than half (42 percent) stating that they felt ‘very safe’ or ‘fairly safe’ (people were asked to think about ‘their local city centre’, and in Christchurch case, the main business or shopping location currently being used). There appears to have been a decrease in the proportion who feel safe walking alone in their neighbourhood after dark, down from 69 percent in 2010 to 58 percent in this survey.

When asked to consider issues in their local area, dangerous driving (including drink-driving and speeding) is still a big issue for residents across all six cities, with a total 67 percent of respondents agreeing that this had been a ‘big problem’ or a ‘bit of a problem’ in their local area in the previous year - particularly in Christchurch (76 percent) and Dunedin (72 percent). Some other key findings were that Aucklanders were less likely than residents of other cities to rate graffiti as a problem in their local area in the last year (52 percent compared with 61 percent overall), and there has been a jump in the proportion of respondents from Christchurch who rated air pollution as a problem in their local area in the last year – up from 31 percent in 2010 to 47 percent in 2012. Other local issues included car theft or damage to cars (59 percent said it had been a problem) and alcohol or drug problems and anti-social behaviour associated with the consumption of alcohol (also 59 percent).

Similar to previous Quality of Life surveys, while a relatively large proportion of respondents felt that it was important to feel a sense of community with others living in their neighbourhood (73 percent strongly agreed or agreed), just over half (53 percent) agreed that they actually felt a sense of community in their neighbourhood. Similar to 2010, residents of Porirua were more likely than other respondents to report that they felt a sense of community in their neighbourhood (63 percent).

The mainstreaming of the internet as a medium for communication shows clearly in the results, with a growing proportion of respondents stating that they belong to an online community or interest group (including sites such as Facebook, online gaming sites and e-forums). Almost half (46 percent) belonged to such an online group or community. The workplace and schools remain popular places for social networking, with 47 percent of respondents feeling that they belonged to such a network.

Urban areas in New Zealand are becoming increasingly diverse in terms of their ethnic and cultural make-up. The Quality of Life 2012 survey results suggest high levels of acceptance of diversity among New Zealand’s city dwellers, with just over half (52 percent) of respondents feeling that the increasing number of people living in New Zealand with different lifestyles and cultures made their city a ‘better’ or ‘much better’ place to live. Respondents living in Wellington, Dunedin and Christchurch cities were more likely than other cities to feel this way (75, 61 and 60 percent respectively), while those in Auckland were less likely (46 percent). People felt diversity brings a broader perspective, new ideas and helps people appreciate other cultures as well as their own.

Just over a third (36 percent) strongly agreed or agreed that that they had confidence that their Council makes decisions that are in the best interests of their city. Over half of those who disagreed said this was due to specific decisions that their Council had made.

A relatively high proportion of respondents (58 percent) agreed that they felt a sense of pride in the way their city or local area looks and feels. Similar to previous Quality of Life surveys, Wellington residents were significantly more likely to have felt a sense of pride in their area (86 percent), along with those living in Dunedin (69 percent).

Only 19 percent of the survey respondents were regular users of public transport (two or more times per week). While three quarters (75 percent) of all respondents agreed that public transport was safe, and easy to get to (73 percent), considerably smaller proportions agreed it was frequent (56 percent), reliable (48 percent), or affordable (46 percent). Porirua, Hutt and Wellington residents were more likely than those in other areas to rate public transport positively.

About the Quality of Life 2012 Survey

The Quality of Life 2012 survey is the fifth nationwide survey in a partnership between several Councils: Auckland, Wellington, Porirua, Hutt, Christchurch and Dunedin.

It is part of an ongoing series of surveys and research exploring quality of life and well-being issues. Topics covered include:
• Quality of life
• Health and wellbeing
• Crime and safety
• Community, culture and social networks
• Council processes
• Built environment
• Public transport
• Lifestyle – work and study

Information obtained from the survey will be used to help inform central and local government policy makers.

In previous years, the survey was carried out using Computer Aided Telephone Interviewing (CATI). Due to the relatively expensive nature of CATI interviewing, the Survey Team was keen to explore other potential methodologies for the 2012 survey.

The methodology selected for 2012 is a sequential mixed methodology. This survey used a self-completion methodology, with respondents being encouraged to complete the survey online initially before being provided with a paper questionnaire. Under this method, all individuals on the Electoral Roll are eligible for selection (as opposed to just those who are successfully matched with a phone number – approximately 40% in the previous CATI surveys).

Of the 18,650 questionnaires sent out, a total sample of 5,145 people completed the survey resulting in a 33% response rate. The results shown are subject to a maximum sampling error of plus or minus 1.4 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.

Due to the change in methodology, plus a number of other changes, direct comparisons with previous Quality of life surveys must be treated with caution. Other changes include a reduction from eight territorial authorities participating in 2010, to six in 2012 (Hamilton and Tauranga did not participate in 2012), and changes to local government in Auckland meant that coverage in Auckland was wider and included the entire region from Rodney to Franklin. Respondents were limited to those aged 18 and over, rather than 15 and over as in previous years.

Nonetheless, some of the changes over time will also reflect the ongoing shifts in people’s experience of living in New Zealand’s big cities in the last few years, such as the general economic downturn and the impacts of the Canterbury earthquakes.

Local level information on the Quality of Life survey will be available to the media from each of the participating Councils.

Quality of Life Website: www.qualityoflifeproject.govt.nz


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