24 Jul 2020

Census 2023: Iwi leaders want government to give Māori much more say

12:26 pm on 24 July 2020

Iwi leaders are urging the government to set new priorities for the next census that give Māori much more say.

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Census data from Stats NZ. Photo: RNZ /Dom Thomas

The government has increased the budget for the 2023 Census to $210 million, two thirds more than in 2018, but less than Stats NZ advised would improve data quality.

The Data Iwi Leaders Group says it supports the boost but recognised it was less than the $226m that Stats NZ had asked for and said was "needed to make significant change".

"The group believes it is incumbent on Stats NZ to use the additional funds to significantly improve their approach to Census 2023," the group said in a statement to RNZ.

It is part of the National Iwi Chairs Forum and is integral to consultation over Census 2023.

A "re-prioritisation of resourcing that would allow for opportunities of co-design, co-development, and co-decision making with iwi" was needed, it said.

"Independently reported failings with Census 2018 resulted in iwi missing out on official statistical counts of iwi information."

The group chair, Karen Vercoe, added that the Covid-19 pandemic had highlighted how vital the data was.

"Iwi were further disadvantaged when there was little or old data for us to use during the pandemic relief response," she said.

Official Information Act documents show Stats NZ doubts a $210m census will be enough to accurately record key data such as iwi affiliations - which are used in Treaty claims - and language ability.

"Statistics NZ and the wider government data system cannot continue to do the same," Vercoe said.

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