The Census holds a mirror up to New Zealand to reflect how this country is made up; where we live, how we live, what we have and what we need.

But this one has revealed something else about New Zealand in 2018 before the numbers have even been counted.

The problems caused by the shift to an online Census reflect a country straddling two ages in transition from an analogue to a digital world.

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It has revealed a divide between the digitally literate and those left behind for which technological advances can feel isolating and make participating harder.

Those who tapped out their Census on a smart phone while stirring dinner will ask what the problem is?

They'll probably find it unbelievable that receiving a letter with a code and online instructions instead of someone coming to the door (even though they can order a paper one) would have been stressful for some.

That's not hyperbole for the more vulnerable in our society. The very people whose data we most need to make a difference.

The shift to modern technology has also been hampered by, ironically, the use of old technology, the postal service, to deliver the codes with many households not receiving one.

Letters get lost, wet, stolen, tossed out or simply ignored.

That can't happen as easily with a person at every door in the country.

In future a fully digital Census will happen without issue when the population is ready.

But maybe the transition is happening too quickly.

To make the switch to an online Census more smooth, at least for this first one, every home in the country should have been visited as usual with online codes delivered by hand and paper versions if requested.

People would have known the Census was on, could have asked questions on the spot and been more comfortable with the change.

No Census will deliver 100 per cent accuracy but it has to be as easy as possible to get as close as possible.