Kerre McIvor

Kerre McIvor is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Kerre McIvor: Get it right and win a resthome

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Righto, then. If I wanted an old folks' home in my neighbourhood 30 years hence, I'd best fill out the Census. Photo / Thinkstock
Righto, then. If I wanted an old folks' home in my neighbourhood 30 years hence, I'd best fill out the Census. Photo / Thinkstock

I don't know about you, but the Census was a bit of a letdown for me.

Everyone had been talking about it - where they were going to be, whether they would do the Census online or in the traditional paper form, then wondering where the bloody hell they'd put the papers anyway.

Government officials who'd been interviewed in the weeks beforehand assured us solemnly that the information we gave was vitally important to the infrastructure plans of the country and that by filling out the questions honestly, we would be able to ensure that decisions made would be in our best interests in the years ahead.

Righto, then. If I wanted an old folks' home in my neighbourhood 30 years hence, I'd best fill out the Census.

I made a first attempt before I left for work on Tuesday night but I fell at the first hurdle - well, the first page.

How long have I lived in my dwelling? Cripes. I couldn't remember. I tried to think how old I was when we bought the place, then how old my daughter had been, then how long we'd been here before we got the dog. But it was hopeless.

It could be anywhere between 13 and 16 years, I said to my producer, counting backwards and forwards on my fingers as I tried to remember life events. "Just put anything," he said, exasperated.

"I can't!" I said, shocked. "You have to answer truthfully and honestly. I'm not going to make things up. I'm not one of those Jedi Knights-for-religion type of people. What's the point of the Census if it's not strictly accurate?"

Toby Manhire suggested through Twitter that the way to work out how long you've lived at a place was to count the carpet stains and divide by three, but we're in Grey Lynn. No carpet here, just the de rigeur polished kauri floor boards.

And as to which statement best described my marital status - when I left home, I was married. But who's to say what might happen in the intervening period while I was on the radio? My husband might have decided he'd had enough. I left home married; when I got home, I might be separated and I'd have put a dash in the wrong box.

I have a horror of filling in forms incorrectly after years spent in Customs queues.

In the end, I filled it out online once I got home and found I a) was still married and b) could crib off my husband's answers re dwelling. (FYI - 15 years).

And it was all such an anti-climax.

I felt there was so much more I could have given them. Didn't they want to know my sporting interests? My BMI? My thoughts on MMP?

There were so many vital pieces of information they could have got if only they'd asked.

Still, so long as I get the resthome at the end of the road once I turn 65, filling in the Census will have been a worthwhile exercise.

- NZ Herald

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