Later this year, around 250 million pieces of statistical information will become freely available from the Statistics New Zealand website. This dramatic opening up of historical information (following our implementation of last year’s Making More Information Freely Available initiative) provides exciting new opportunities for all New Zealanders to observe, analyse and reflect on our changing nation. It also underscores Statistics New Zealand’s focus on access to and the use of official statistics for informing New Zealand. What better epitomises the role of a national statistical office than the publishing of universally available, reliable and consistent time series on our population, society, economy and environment?
Statistics New Zealand has a very proud tradition of high quality, objective reporting on New Zealand’s progress. It is well-regarded nationally and internationally, and it is my pleasure to be involved in the organisation’s work and overall development. I see my challenge as building on the achievements of my predecessors in lifting the performance of both Statistics New Zealand and the Official Statistics System.
For Statistics New Zealand, this has meant the introduction of a new mission to:
“Turn data into relevant knowledge, efficiently.”
It has also meant the establishment of a new leadership team, with a clear focus on leading the direction, culture and performance of Statistics New Zealand. Lifting our impact and enhancing our productivity, sustainability and capability with the allocated resources will be a key challenge for the new team. This is not a single year’s task, but a medium-term one. We have many strengths as an organisation, with excellent, deep-seated values, high professional commitment, tremendous knowledge and expertise, and extensive relationships. We also have a number of old business systems, a relatively high proportion of inexperienced staff, and face rising costs in undertaking our business. My commitment is to ensure that Statistics New Zealand retains and develops the capability necessary to produce and disseminate high-quality, relevant and timely statistics, and to lead the Official Statistics System for the benefit of New Zealand.
Our goal of an informed society using official statistics can only be accomplished in collaboration with others. We will continue to work with and strengthen relationships with our partners in the Official Statistics System, while providing the necessary leadership and support to ensure the quality and integrity of all official statistics. A great deal of work has already been undertaken in this area, such as the production of the Principles and Protocols for Producers of Tier 1 Statistics, the setting up of the Survey Notification System and the establishment of the Statisphere website (http://www.statisphere.govt.nz/). Our aim is to build on and continue with this good work.
Alongside our relationships with our partners are our relationships with providers and users of information. We depend on the continuing goodwill and willingness of New Zealanders to provide information and are always mindful of, and seek to minimise, the burden placed on businesses and households by our questionnaires. We are also focused on protecting trust and confidence in official statistics through maintaining high-quality production and taking the highest levels of care over the confidentiality and privacy of information.
Ultimately, however, the costs we impose on the community through our data collection endeavours are only justified if the data are used and are relevant to today’s and future discussions and decision-making. In this light, we look forward to the benefits from removal of charges and other initiatives underway to promote access to and use of statistics. The next three years herald an exciting period for Statistics New Zealand, the Official Statistics System, and our user community, and I am very pleased to outline this further in this Statement of Intent.
Chief Executive and Government Statistician