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New Zealand Cancels Its Census

New Zealand has canceled its planned 2011 census because of the major earthquake on the nation’s South Island on Feb. 22. The census, which is taken every five years, had been scheduled for March 8. Residents had the option of filling out forms online or on paper.

In canceling the census, government officials said it would be an unfair burden and a distraction to ask people to fill out census forms while they are dealing with the aftermath of the quake. They also cited damage to Statistics New Zealand offices with “extensive impact on census staff.”

The nation’s chief statistician, Geoff Bascand, said he and his staff would “investigate the feasibility of alternative options.” According to news accounts, Bascand said the nation’s Statistics Act must be amended in order for the census to be canceled because the law requires a census to be taken every five years.

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