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2018 Census - what you need to know

This year's census is online, although people can still get paper forms if they need them. Photo / Census.govt.nz

Census Day is March 6, but this year's switch to online form completion isn't without problems.

Does your home have a working kitchen sink? And do you have mould growing that's larger than an A4 piece of paper?

Those are some of the questions in the new-style census, which takes place on Tuesday.

Statistics New Zealand has moved most of the census online - with around half a million people already filling in their details - but not everyone's moved away from snail mail.

There are about 68 questions in this year's census - topics covered include transport, health, work, education and relationships.

Access codes have been mailed to every home in the country, which people will use to enter their information online.

South Auckland woman Dolly is in her late 40s and said she had heard about the census on the radio - but didn't know when she needed to have filled it in by.

"We'll be receiving a login through the mail to process our census application for the whole family," she said.

Stephen Westwood, 28, lives in Ponsonby and said he had received mail but did not know what to do with it.

"I think we might have something on the fridge but it sort of looks like it's been eaten by snails ... but I'm not sure what it is exactly."

Phil Patridge from Sandringham, in his 40s, said he was worried about those who had not got their access code.

"I've seen a bit of TV about it. The surprise for me was that it all needs to be done by March 6th and I felt like people are only just getting the idea that it's actually happening."

About half a million people had already filled the census out online, with Statistics New Zealand saying it was aiming to have about 70 percent filled out online.

Reuben Woods, 42, from Point Chevalier said it took him about 30 minutes to fill everything in on behalf of his household of two adults and two children under five.

"I half expected it to be a bit longer and to draw a bit more detail but I suppose they've got to find that balance between boring people to death and getting a decent chunk of data."

Census general manager Denise McGregor said they had online responses from all age brackets - with more online responses from people aged 65 and over than from people aged 15 to 25.

This year's census includes questions about whether homes were damp and how they were heated. There is even a question about whether homes had working kitchen sinks.

Mr Woods said that was useful information to have.

"The quality of the housing stock and the gap between rich and poor, housing affordability and landlords versus those that don't own homes," he said.

"They're all topical and important issues."

Mrs McGregor said there had been delays in getting papers to Northland, West Coast, Tasman, and Gisborne areas due to Cyclone Gita, but they should be in mailboxes by Tuesday.

Census teams were working with hotels, hospitals, and camping grounds, as well as remote rural areas and places with homeless populations to make sure everyone participated, she said.

This article was originally published by RNZ.