Stand up and be counted

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Calculated guesses on Queenstown’s population – or the number of resident Brazilians – are to be tested. 

The New Zealand Census of Population and Dwellings is on March 5, with local collectors handing out forms house-to-house from Saturday. 

Statistics NZ’s last five-yearly census was in 2006 – the 2011 one was shelved due to Christchurch earthquakes. 

Now, statistical info on Queenstown – reportedly the fast-growing centre in the country – is badly out of date. 

Paula Squire-Thomas, one of the Wakatipu’s two district census supervisors, says it’s in people’s interests to fill out the forms – and compulsory by law. 

Squire-Thomas: “This is something that could make a big change to Queenstown and to the services that we get. 

“Queenstown has got all its issues with healthcare and schooling. This information is really important.” 

At the time of the last census, for example, Jack’s Point was almost vacant and settlement at Lake Hayes Estate had only just begun. 

Squire-Thomas is taking on 15 collectors to look after her patch and colleague Brian Marquand also has 17. 

Each collector targets about 300 dwellings, she says. 

“In my Glenorchy area, I’ve got 16 Department of Conservation huts – they have to be targeted as well.” 

Collectors will try three times to find a householder, after which they’ll leave forms. 

Squire-Thomas says a Queenstown challenge is unoccupied homes, some let out for holiday accommodation: 

“We’ve tried to liaise with all the property management companies but a lot of places are let out privately.” 

As visitors must fill out census forms too, a special district supervisor for hotels, motels, backpackers and B&Bs has joined the team. 

Guidance notes accompanying the census forms are in 22 languages. 

“It’s the hotels’ legal obligation to make sure guests fill them in,” Squire-Thomas says. 

Marquand adds: “There’ll be some resistance, I’m sure, from tourists.” 

However they only have to answer six questions, he says. 

People have the choice of filling out forms online. 

Squire-Thomas: “Statistics NZ is expecting to get 35 per cent back online but in Queenstown I think we’ll get way more than that.” 

After March 5, collectors will retrieve forms from everyone who hasn’t filled them out online.