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So you don't want to fill in the Census?

Updated: Mar 6, 2023

If you're here then you have probably reached the point where you have decided that your position on gender identity is incompatible with completing the 2023 Census.

We can’t offer legal advice and we can’t incite you to break the law, but we can help you make a stand. You can take this as far as you wish - and please tell us how you get on!

What we can tell you is that while it an offence to not complete the census, it is also an offence to supply false or incomplete information. So what’s it going to be? Stats can't have it both ways.

Your position is that you don’t have a gender and you don’t believe in gender identity. You have a sex and that’s it, so what can you do?

  • A powerful response is to put it back onto the Census team, make the false information offence their problem.

  • Be polite and respectful to the people you deal with (they will just be messengers and the first line will have no idea what you're talking about), but make it clear that you can’t fill it in because it is an offence to provide false information.

  • Explain that online you can’t progress past the Gender question as none of the answers offered apply to you.

  • Explain that ticking the “another gender” box is not an alternative, another gender is quite different no gender (use the religion question as a nice comparison).

  • Explain that with the paper forms you don’t want to leave it blank because you know that the result of that will be an alternatively sourced answer that will be incorrect, and you don’t want false information on your record.

  • Explain that you are happy to have your sex recorded but definitely nothing for Gender.

The result we are after is that Stats NZ recognise that there needs to be a ‘no gender’ or opt out option for the Gender question if they are going to ask it, or they create their very own Catch-22 situation.

This may get them to rethink the ‘Gender by Default’ approach for subsequent censuses.


Here's what the law says (follow this link for more info)

Do I have to complete the census?

The Data and Statistics Act 2022 requires that everyone in New Zealand on census day must fill out a census form. If you don’t participate or if you provide false or incomplete information an individual person can be fined $2,000 and organisations and agencies $12,000 for agencies. For more information on penalties and fines, please review sections 76 and 77 of the Data and Statistics Act 2022. Because participation in the census is required under the Statistics Act, this overrides the general requirements of the Privacy Act. If you have questions about the census or your obligations on census day, you should get in touch with Statistics New Zealand, as it is the agency responsible for carrying out the census.


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