Census data valued resource

Everyone is legally obliged to fill in and return the census, but another good reason people should participate is because the documents will provide vital information for communities, including the rapidly growing Queenstown Lakes district.

Southern DHB medical officer of health Dr Keith Reid said, from a healthcare perspective, the census ''provides information on the make-up of society'' which is ''key to understanding the health needs of our communities''.

''Information such as how many old and young people we have, where they live, what conditions they live in, how educated they are and what their incomes are help us better to understand how healthcare services should be targeted to achieve the biggest health gain for our communities,'' Dr Reid said.

Over time, the patterns seen in the information help healthcare services understand how effective they have been, he said.

Queenstown Lakes District Council communications manager Meaghan Miller said the information was critical for agencies in the area to understand growth, especially considering the Queenstown Lakes district is ''one of the fastest growing areas''.

Ms Miller said the council could not wait to receive growth information from a four-yearly census, so independent modelling was also done.

''Last census the growth rate the census data showed was comparable to the stuff we had done ... so it's valuable in that sense.''

''It's absolutely critical that everybody participates; for us it's really essential information.''

The Ministry of Education explained it might use census information in some way, but in the case of school roll projections alternative sources were used.

''National school roll projections are based on the ministry's own data on current school rolls, school retention [to different ages and year levels] together with Statistics New Zealand's information on existing numbers of children in the population at different ages; projections for numbers of births and on migrations,'' a ministry spokesperson said.

Statistics New Zealand postponed the 2011 census due to the February Canterbury earthquake and, in September 2011, declared March 5, 2013, to be Census Day.