Push to get greater Maori participation

By Mike Dinsdale

The 2013 Census is going ahead on March 5, seeking to take a snapshot of New Zealand's resident population on the day.

The information gathered by Statistics New Zealand is used to help future planning - from health funding for a region to the number of Maori electorate seats needed.

Maori have traditionally been more reluctant to take part in the Census and this year there's a big push to get more Maori participation, with politicians, health advocates, educators, te reo exponents, youth and iwi leaders recording short speeches in the Census Tent that was up during the Waitangi Day commemoration at Waitangi.

In the 2006 Census Maori were 43.9 per cent of the Far North population and 25.2 per cent of the population in the Whangarei district - compared to 14.6 per cent of the population of New Zealand - but officials believe this may even be higher.

Northland Labour List MP Shane Jones said participation in the Census 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.

Mr Jones also said fears some people had that the state was hoarding their personal information were unfounded as the confidential data collected was used responsibly.

The Census forms have more than 40 relevant questions - including how long the person has lived at their address, country of birth, ethnic group and religion - which are the same as asked in the 2006 Census.

Marital status and highest secondary school and other qualifications are also asked about, along with income - in $5000 bands - and employment.

For more information go to: www.census.govt.nz

- Northern Advocate

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