Northlanders have just under a week to apply to become a census collector for the March 5 census.
Census questions will include queries about ethnicity and whether people are descended from Maori. If they are, they are asked to name their tribe.
Northland Labour list MP Shane Jones said the essence of the census was to produce accurate information about the make-up of communities to help central and local government allocate funding for roads, schools, hospitals and other services.
But he also pointed out the next Maori Electoral Option will take place from March 25-July 24. This usually occurs every five years just after the national census but, this time around, it has not been offered since 2006 as the 2011 census was called off because of the Christchurch earthquake.
"It's important for Maori to enrol on either the Maori or general electoral roll as Maori electorates will survive only while Maori are associated with the seats," Mr Jones said.
The results of the Maori Electoral Option together with the census data are used to determine the number of Maori and general electorates in Parliament and to revise electorate boundaries.
Four Maori seats were established in 1867 to give Maori a direct say in Parliament. In 1975, the government introduced the Maori Electoral Option and Maori seats were increased to five before the first MMP election in 1996. Since 2002, there have been seven.
Mr Jones said participation in the census and general election was part of belonging to the modern New Zealand community and he dismissed as ridiculous any suggestion Maori should not participate because it undermined their sovereignty.
He also said fears some people had that the state was hoarding their personal information were unfounded as the confidential data collected was used responsibly.
Maori were estimated to number 673,500 or 15 per cent of the population of 4.41 million last year.
Census 2013 questions can be answered online as well as on forms to be delivered to households. For more information see www.census.govt.nz. People interested in a census collector role can go to www.census.govt.nz/jobs.