New Zealanders' gender diversity to be better reflected in household surveys, Stats NZ says

The gender diversity of New Zealanders will be better reflected in future statistics with new information collected in household surveys, Statistics New Zealand announced today.

More than 28,000 New Zealand households will be asked to take part in the upcoming Household Economic Survey, starting this year. The survey will ask people to describe their gender, which includes male, female or one of the many non-binary genders.

"People will have the option to provide their own description of their gender. So, for example, Māori who identify as takatāpui can tell us that through their survey answers. The responses will help us show New Zealanders who we really are," Stats NZ general manager Jason Attewell said.

Information and survey responses provided for the survey will be kept private, secure and confidential by Stats NZ, and individuals will not be identified in published statistics or research.

"Until now, we've been mostly relying on our survey interviewers to describe a person as being male or female," Mr Atwell said. "This hasn't allowed us to clearly distinguish between sex and gender and doesn't provide the opportunity for people to tell us if these two categories don't describe them well. Really, this is information that New Zealanders can best provide for themselves."

The question on gender, combined with a question about sex at birth, will help ensure the transgender population is better reflected in the data collected.

The survey will also ask people how they would describe their sexual identity, including heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual or if another term better describes them.

"Our statistics should reflect everyone, so along with collecting information such as age, ethnicity, health, and education, this information helps us describe and understand the diversity of society in relation to important topics like income, poverty, and other aspects of our standard of living.

"This information will also help government policymakers and other decision-makers when they consider funding which affects minority groups. It will also provide important insights for communities who have not yet seen themselves reflected in our data."

For the first time, respondents will be able to manually answer these and some other questions on a computer screen.

"We acknowledge some of these questions are sensitive for some people. Our interviewers will simply turn the computer around, so people can answer this part of the survey privately. Other core demographic questions, like ethnicity, are also in this self-complete section."

The Household Economic Survey is the second large Stats NZ survey to ask questions about New Zealanders' sexual identity. The first was the 2018 General Social Survey, with initial results to be released on Wednesday.

A rainbow flag. Source: Associated Press