The 2013 census will provide Nelson City Council with concrete figures on how many Christchurch residents have moved north to escape the quake-ravaged city.
The census will take place on March 5 next year, after last year's census was cancelled because of the earthquake in February.
Nelson City Council research and monitoring manager Martin Workman said the census was hugely valuable because it provided a comprehensive picture of what was happening in the community.
The council used the data to learn more about transport, demographics and the number of people in each household.
Mr Workman said demographic information was used to figure out how quickly the area's population was growing and provide the right infrastructure and services, such as larger libraries.
The estimated population of Nelson in June 2011 was 46,200.
Mr Workman said the council also used the information to learn about poverty in the region.
"The deprivation index allows us to see if areas of Nelson are getting poorer or not and how this compares nationally."
Statistics New Zealand has begun looking for an area manager to head the Nelson collection team.
South Island regional manager Linda Till described the hiring process as a "waterfall effect".
A further eight district supervisors and 140 collectors will be recruited later in the year.
There will be 7500 temporary jobs created nationwide between now and February 2013.
Statistics New Zealand is determined to reach everyone in the country, and all adult residents are legally obliged to complete the census.
Ms Till said it was important for people to co-operate with collectors so accurate information could be gathered.
"It's used by communities, businesses, schools. It's not just the Government who wants the information; other organisations rely on it."
She said personal details were not shared with other government departments.
Areas around Nelson such as Marlborough Sounds and the national parks will be some of the biggest challenges for collectors.
Ms Till said Marlborough Sounds was a unique location in New Zealand in terms of the islands.
"We can't drive there so we have to use water taxis or other boats."
There are also many holiday homes in the area, so collectors need to figure out if there is going to be someone there on census night, she said.
The national parks around Nelson have also been difficult for collectors in the past.
"We need to reach people, whether they're kayaking or tramping the Heaphy Track," said Ms Till.
She said the collection process was standardised, but there were challenges every year.
Some areas of the South Island were reached by helicopter during past censuses.
- The Nelson Mail
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