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How the Data and Statistics Act will improve the data system

Members of Parliament

On the first of this month the Data and Statistics Act 2022 came into force.

The Statistics Act 1975 was almost fifty years old and had become out of step with the way we gather data and produce statistics in New Zealand, meaning the time had come to modernise and future proof our legislative framework.

The previous Act was written during a time before the widespread use of computers, internet, social media and smart phones, and the social, economic, and cultural changes these continue to drive.

While the Statistics Act had stood us in a good position, our new legislation will better meet future data and statistical needs, while reflecting Aotearoa New Zealand’s growing ambitions.

The Data and Statistics Act 2022 strengthens the role of Government Statistician (GS) in leading the official statistics system in several ways.

There are new functions: to develop a multi-year data and statistical programme and set mandatory standards.

Stats NZ is a trusted guardian of personal and commercially sensitive information. The Act provides a strong level of protection for data collected and used to produce statistics or accessed for research. The non-negotiable confidentiality requirements mean people can be confident that their data is in safe hands and protected. There are new requirements for the GS to publish information about research access and for researchers to publish their results, allowing New Zealanders to see the way their data is managed and used.

The 2022 Act also ensures flexibility to enable access to sources of data other than from surveys for research and statistics, creating a more efficient, sustainable data-collection system. We are already using alternative data sources for some of our statistics, but the wording of the old Act made this quite challenging. The new Act will make Stats NZ better equipped to withstand disruptions such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Having a more modernised system will reduce burden on people to manually provide data for statistics, without compromising quality.

Stats NZ will endeavour to lead the way for the data system by recognising Māori interests in the collection and the use of data and will engage in early and meaningful ways in key areas of work under the new Act. This means that the system will benefit from the increased inclusion of Māori perspectives, and Stats will operate better as a Treaty partner.

As many agencies are aware, these changes are extremely important as they support our journey to close data gaps and improve the quality of data we hold, on behalf of New Zealanders.

The Data and Statistics Act 2022 will deliver a robust, future-focused data and statistics system to help shape the decisions of our future. The journey ahead is an exciting one.



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