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Census 2023

Census NZ logo.

The census is a nationwide survey that provides an official count of people and dwellings in Aotearoa New Zealand. It gives a snapshot of life, people, and communities every five years. The next census will be held on Tuesday 7 March 2023.

This collection of teaching ideas and resources will help you learn about the census with your school and community.

Curriculum links | Classroom suggestions | Resources

Links to The New Zealand Curriculum 

Cover of the New Zealand Curriculum.

The 2023 Census provides a useful context for meeting the intent of The New Zealand Curriculum

Students can:

  • demonstrate the curriculum vision of being connected, actively involved, lifelong learners
  • explore the future-focused issues of sustainability, citizenship, and globalisation
  • consider the NZC values of diversity, respect, community, and participation
  • make use of key competencies, especially using language, symbols, and texts, relating to others, thinking, and participating and contributing
  • achieve learning outcomes in a range of learning areas, especially social sciences and mathematics and statistics.

2023 Census and Te Tiriti o Waitangi – The Treaty of Waitangi sets out how the 2023 Census Programme will meet its obligations under Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Links to the social sciences

Students can meet achievement objectives in the social sciences by:

  • exploring the different groups of people who make up New Zealand
  • understanding how planning and decision-making at national, regional, and local levels can be influenced by demographics 
  • investigating how the New Zealand population has changed over time.

Links to mathematics and statistics
Students can meet achievement objectives in mathematics and statistics by:

  • designing and conducting their own census investigations using the statistical enquiry cycle
  • evaluating their findings
  • analysing the findings of the 2018 census and those of previous years
  • evaluating the effectiveness of different data displays.

Classroom suggestions

Here is a selection of ideas to help you incorporate the census into your teaching programme. Adapt the suggestions to suit the needs and interests of your students.

Learning about the census

Students and teacher.

Ask students to explore the following questions:

  • Why do we need a census?
  • What questions do you think a census should ask?
  • What questions will be asked in the 2018 Census?
  • Which questions are new? Why do you think these have been added? 
  • What other questions do you think should be asked?
  • How is census information collected?
  • How is census information kept private? 

Useful links:

Census statistics 

Ask students to browse the Statistics NZ website to answer the following questions:

Students could explore the website further to develop their own questions for a class quiz.

Census history 

Students looking at an iPad.

Ask students to investigate the history of the census. The following questions could be explored:

  • In what ways has the New Zealand population changed over time?
  • What different technologies have been used to collect and analyse census information?
  • How have questions in the census changed over time? Why do you think they have changed?  

Useful links:

Hold your own census

Students could hold their own class census to learn more about their classmates. Possible questions that they could ask include:

  • What are the different ethnicities of students in our class?
  • What is the average height of the class?
  • How do most people travel to school?
  • What is the most popular school subject in the class?
  • How many people in the class have a computer at home?

Students could be divided into small groups to collect and collate the data, and share their analysis with the rest of the class.

Older students could carry out a school-wide census and offer suggestions to the Board of Trustees on how to meet the needs of the current school population. For example, if there is a large group of junior students, could the school invest in more library books or PE gear for this age group? If lots of students get driven to school could the school promote walking buses?


Statistics NZ | Census
This is the official website for the NZ Census. It explains what a census is and the reasons for having one, access to census data, and tools with census data.  

Census at school
This website offers information and support for the teaching of statistics. Resources include workshops, presentations, classroom activities, research papers, interactive data analysis tools, real student data sets, and essential statistics website links.

NZ Maths | Census at school
This Level 5 unit develops statistical literacy exploring multivariate data sets that have been created by the students and from the CensusAtschool (NZ) and CensusAtschool (International) sites.

Statistics NZ | Population
This section of the Statistics NZ website provides information about New Zealand's population.

Published on: 01 Dec 2017