Back to census after 2 years

21:25, Apr 15 2013
peter whiddett
FORM FITTING: Peter Whiddett, Central South Canterbury's district supervisor for the national census, wants to make sure everyone fills out their form.

Peter Whiddett was just a few days into his job of helping oversee the census taking in 2011, before it was interrupted by the earthquake.

Two years later, he's pleased to resume his role.

Mr Whiddett is the supervisor for the Central South Canterbury district, which covers up to 4100 dwellings, and 9900 individuals. Since last weekend, he estimated that his team of 15 census-takers had completed about 50 per cent of the job, with all the forms needing to be delivered by March 5.

"There's a lot of walking to do, we have to make sure every dwelling in our district is covered," Mr Whiddett said.

"You would be surprised, but the vast majority of people have been very friendly at the door."

Mr Whiddett assumed the role back in 2011, but the February 22 earthquake forced the Government to delay the census for two years.


"I was enjoying my job. We've had a bit of a delay, for obvious reasons, so I'm keen to see it finished," he said.

About 7000 people have been employed nationwide to assist with the census. Nearly everyone tasked with gathering the census forms is employed on a contract basis. Each district supervisor is responsible for about 15 census takers. There are 20 district supervisors in Canterbury alone.

"I don't go to the doors and hand out the forms; my role is to ensure that my district's census-takers are doing their job right."

Mr Whiddett said he had to chase up a few individuals who refused to accept the census forms, but nearly all of them changed their mind after a talk.

"You get the usual small number who are against the idea, as they're concerned about the Government monitoring them. We tell them that no-one's individual information ever gets released, the census is only concerned in groups and demographics," he said.

"The information from the census is used for so many different things, not just central and local government's spending. Large businesses can also use it to determine where they establish stores."

Mr Whiddett said there have been some reports of census-takers being attacked by dogs, but mostly it had been an accident-free experience.

By the time the census delivery period finishes, collectors would have gone to every home and delivered 6.4 million internet access codes and paper forms.

The Timaru Herald