Brown Butterbean out to promote Census 2023

By Tumamao Harawira

Community activist Dave Letele, also known as The Brown Buttabean, has signed on to promote Census 2023 next year.

Letele is an ambassador for PERSOLKELLY, the recruitment agency Stats NZ has been onboarded to recruit Census collectors.

After a disastrous 2018 Census where it's estimated more than 30 percent of Māori failed to take part, the government is investing heavily in getting a better result.

An extra $110 million is being spent by the government on next year's census. This includes establishing community hubs and employing people in the community

"This is how central and local governments make decisions on health and roading and even things like playgrounds," Letele says.

"The reason for me wanting to do it is to really encourage our people, Māori and Pasifika especially, to participate and actually complete the census."

Te Ao Māori Census director Atawhai Tibble agrees and says Māori participation is crucial.

Stats NZ 'learned its lesson'

"If you have manuhiri at your marae, it's much easier to provide food for your guests if you know how many."

In 2018, the census was run online, and there was a major fall in the number of Māori who completed the survey. 

The previous National-led government had decided to shift the census to a mostly online survey and, at the same time, directed Stats NZ to cut costs over two census cycles. That resulted in lower-than-usual coverage.

Tibble says Stats NZ has learned its lesson.

"We sat with iwi and listened and learned and we changed our approach."

Letele, who is running a social media campaign to find more than 3000 workers, says Māori and Pasifika communities fare better when they are greeted face-to-face.

"For our people especially it's good to have locals. So we are looking for local community people to get out there in your local community and talk to people."

The campaign is looking for 3,500 New Zealanders to sign up as collectors People can sign up to do so here: www.persokelly.co.nz/censusjobs