Census officials are calling on New Zealanders to participate in the national survey next Tuesday as it will bring about sweeping changes to our lives.
Some schools will change decile ratings, meaning more or less funding from the Government. Electoral boundaries are likely to shift - perhaps moving voters from Nikki Kaye's Auckland Central to the ACT Party's toehold on Parliament in Epsom.
Businesses also use the data to plan where to put new retail outlets - and even what items to stock.
General manager of Statistics New Zealand Carol Slappendel said the figures are also used to compile a "deprivation index" which can map the poorer areas of the country right down to small neighbourhoods.
"This allows for funding and resources by state agencies to closely targeted to where the need is," she said. "When you are looking at something like rhuematic fever for instance, you can target the low income areas where there is the most overcrowding. It's for the efficiency of the economy and the better of society."
Slappendel said the impacts on the delayed Census would be known after the Census has been held. "Only then will we know what has changed that we weren't aware of. In some repsects, we won't know where we have problems until we've done this Census."
Slappendel said the questions about disabilities were very useful as there was a lot of disability in communities which wasn't known. For this reason, a post-Census survey is done further into areas where disabilities have been identified.
Responses to a question about where people lived five years ago was always very interesting, Slappendel said. "In New Zealand we have very high levels of internal migration compared to other countries. That's one of the reasons we run our Census every five years rather than every 10 years like most other countries. In previous years, we have found approximately 50 per cent of people had moved during the previous five years."
Slappendel said she expected all Census forms to have been delivered by the end of this weekend. "We have begun leaving the forms at addresses where we have had no answer. One of the challenges has been apartment buildings, particualrly in Auckland. We do suspect people are at home but are not answering. That's my plea, if a Census worker knocks, please answer the door."
For more about the 2013 Census see www.census.govt.nz or phone 0800 CENSUS (0800 236787).
Ten things which could be changed by your answers
1. Usual residence: This helps determine electorate boundaries
2. Ethnicity: For allocating health funding where ethnic communities have settled
3. Language:To assess need for translation services and multi-lingual material in health, education, and welfare
4. Iwi affiliation: To support Treaty of Waitangi settlement claims
5. Iwi affiliation: As a basis for the allocation of resources and funds to iwi
6. How many people at your house?: Combined with number of bedrooms, identifies overcrowding.
7. How did you travel to work?: This helps make plans for roads and public transport.
8. Income: Government and councils work out where to put affordable housing.
9. Income: Feeds into decile ratings - the basis for funding schools.
10. Income: Businesses work out where to put shops and what products to stock.