Oamaru has been chosen by Statistics New Zealand to act as a
"guinea pig" during the 2013 census, to decide if a new
online census system can be rolled out nationally in 2018.
Philippa Kidd, of Statistics NZ's strategy and development
unit, told the Waitaki District Council of the whole on
Tuesday that residents living in a large section of Oamaru
would be the only people in the country to receive direct
mail instructing them to complete the census online.
Oamaru had been chosen as a special administrative area, to
test a new way of streamlining the census process, which
could reduce the need for people to go door to door
delivering forms, Ms Kidd said.
The 2013 census, which will take place on March 5, would cost
the Government $90 million to run, and it would take 10 ship
containers to hold the seven million paper census forms that
were due to be sent out this year, she said.
Those sort of costs were not sustainable and new methodology
to gather census information was needed, which first had to
be tested, she said.
Oamaru was the perfect place to carry out that test, she
"We looked at all the 2006 census administrative areas, and
Oamaru had one of the highest online uptakes, and Oamaru also
had a very high response to the census itself."
It was hoped 60% of residents in the test area would take
part online, compared with an estimated 35% online uptake in
other parts of the country.
"We are only doing it in one area. We don't want to get to
2018 and find out it doesn't work."
Oamaru census results would be compared with those of another
town in the North Island, which would act as a "control
area", she said
The identity of that town is being kept secret.