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Instead, boxes of the forms are piling up in Statistics New Zealand offices in Dunedin and across Otago, as well as elsewhere in New Zealand, awaiting a decision on their fate.
It was announced late last month this year's census - scheduled to take place on March 8 - would be cancelled because of the impact of last month's Christchurch earthquake on census operations in the city.
Statistics New Zealand South Canterbury and Otago area manager Bryan Bishop said the dislocation of people from Christchurch to other centres across Otago and Canterbury also meant the decision was the right one.
The census was a snapshot of the country's population every five years, but would have been distorted by the population movements, he believed.
"We believe Timaru has grown by 20% in the last week ... If we had taken that snapshot it would have been the incorrect one," he said.
The damage to Christchurch's infrastructure also created logistics hurdles, he said.
Statistics New Zealand's purpose-built centre for collating census forms had been damaged, as well as its headquarters in Christchurch, he said.
His organisation had been preparing for the census since September last year, with about 360 part-time workers employed to deliver forms across the district, from Milton to Hinds, Rangitata, Mt Cook and Ranfurly, and including Dunedin, he said.
About 30% of the area's forms had already been delivered since late last month, but recipients were now being asked to destroy or recycle them, he said.
It was only the third time the census had been cancelled, after disruptions in 1931, because of the Great Depression, and in 1941, during World War 2.
Mr Bishop said there was "huge sadness" the census had again been cancelled.
"You have got to believe in what you're doing and everybody associated with the census can see the benefit of it, and therefore it's just a great loss to us," he said.
It was not yet known whether the forms would be reused or recycled, or when the census would next be held, he said.