A guide to using data from the New Zealand Census: 1981–2006


1.1 Overview of the Family and Whānau Wellbeing Project and the New Zealand Census of Population and Dwellings

1.1.1 Research aim

The Family and Whānau Wellbeing Project (FWWP) is a five-year research programme supported from the Social Science funding pool of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology. The principal goal of this programme is to develop ways to examine and monitor social and economic determinants of family and whānau wellbeing and how these determinants have changed over the 1981–2006 period.

1.1.2 Defining family and wellbeing

Individuals in a familial relationship are defined by Statistics New Zealand as people in a relationship in which ‘a person is related to another person by blood, registered marriage, civil union, consensual union, fostering or adoption.’ (Statistics New Zealand 2006). Family can be further defined as a group of people where resources are shared, including personal, social and material resources, and interdependency exists between the family members.

A full discussion on the definition of wellbeing is available in another publication of this project: Family Wellbeing Indicators from the 1981–2001 New Zealand Censuses, (Milligan, Fabian et al. 2006). In summary, however, wellbeing is linked to quality of life and according to Hird (Hird 2003), can be broken down into two types, subjective and objective wellbeing, which affect each other.

Objective wellbeing is the focus of this project and includes factors such as physical, developmental and activity-based, material, social and emotional wellbeing. All these types of wellbeing have tangible outputs that can be measured, for example, income, access to telecommunications, heating of dwellings, educational qualifications, etc. This report looks at some of the variables that are available from the New Zealand Census of Population and Dwellings that can be used to measure wellbeing.

1.1.3 The New Zealand Census of Population and Dwellings

The New Zealand Census of Population and Dwellings is a self-administered repeated cross-sectional survey of the entire population of New Zealand. The Statistics Act 1975 prescribes that a census be conducted every five years, and provides an outline of census content (Statistics New Zealand 1998).


The views expressed in this occasional paper are the personal views of the authors and should not be taken to represent the views or policy of Statistics New Zealand or the Government. Although all reasonable steps have been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no responsibility is accepted for the reliance by any person on any information contained in this occasional paper, nor for any error in or omission from the occasional paper.


Some of the links in the above pdf document may not work. See About 2006 Census for links to census metadata products. For other information, search on the Statistics New Zealand website or contact the Information Centre on 0508 525 525 (toll free in New Zealand).