Wiesbaden Group on Business Registers — International
Roundtable on Business Survey Frames
Country progress report 2012
Country: New Zealand
Reporter: Stuart Pitts
Institution: Statistics New Zealand
I. Organisation and Population of the Business Registers*
1. Name of the register
Statistics New Zealand Business Frame (about to be redeveloped as the Business Register)
2. The name of the organisation responsible for holding the register
Statistics New Zealand
3. The place of the register unit in the organisation
Industry & Labour Statistics division
4. Main goal of the register
Provides a reference population for business surveys run by Statistics NZ and other NZ government
agencies producing Tier 1 statistics (statistics of national importance) and is the source for the
production of annual business demography statistics. Also provides the basis of an integration
framework for different sources of data.
5. Year of establishment of the register
Statistics NZ first had a full coverage online register (the Business Directory) in 1986.
6. Year(s) of the main re-engineering(s) of the register
1996 (current Business Frame) and redevelopment (new Business Register) started in 2012.
7. Number of employees in the register unit
8. Number of live (active) units in the register in past year
470,000 economically significant enterprises
9.Main changes during past year (if any)
No major changes to the current Business Frame - expectation that things will stay the same while the
redevelopment project continues and the new Business Register comes on line in 2013/14.
*or the unit responsible for the Business Survey Frames
II. Progress and Developments in the Past Year
Please name main achievements (maximum 3) in the past year or the problems you have tackled
1. Initiating redevelopment of the Business Frame
The underlying technology of the current Business Frame dates back to 1996 and has some legacy risk
associated with it. But this is also an opportunity to look at the wider frame/register environment with an
eye to meeting evolving and new statistical needs, in cheaper and more sustainable ways.
2. Identification of Māori businesses
Statistics NZ has a statutory obligation to meet the needs of Māori as the indigenous people of New
Zealand. We have been using administrative sources (from our tax office) to identify Māori businesses
with an emphasis on 'collective ownership'. But not all Māori businesses are flagged in our
administrative sources, some operate as normal commercial entities, and the definition of what makes a
business 'Māori' is still being developed. The work done to date has enabled some provisional data to be
produced and this is being used as a basis for further consultation rather than as a baseline for future
3. Understanding the impact of the 2011 Christchurch Earthquake
In Feb 2011 New Zealand's second largest city, Christchurch, was devastated by a large earthquake
with much of the damage occurring in the CBD. 18 months after the event, almost two thirds of the
geographic locations recorded on the Business Frame in a cordoned off area of the central city were still
'live'. The administrative data and associated process we rely on for the vast bulk of our frame updates
have not provided a timely picture of what has happened in relation to this significant, one-off event.
III. Future plans
Please name themes/problems (maximum 3) which you plan to tackle in next year.
1. Development of the new Business Register
This will be a two year project and is closely linked to a full programme of work funded by government to
modernise Statistics NZ's systems and processes. A big part of this programme (Statistics 2020) is
about making Statistics NZ a smaller and more efficient organisation, and this is also a key driver in the
2. Cross agency initiatives to make it easier for businesses to work with government
Work is being done to try and standardise the way different government agencies work with businesses
and where possible avoid duplication. One aspect of this is a proposal to implement a Single Business
Identifier that each agency would use to identify a business. Currently there are different numbers for
different agencies, including unique identifiers used by Statistics NZ.
3. Incorporating geospatial data with the new Business Register
The current Business Frame uses location address information to provide a geographic reference at our
lowest unit of geography (mesh blocks). Statistics NZ has a geospatial project that will allow us to use
physical coordinates to locate businesses and households, and build geographic layers over this with
less manual effort and greater accuracy. There are challenges around understanding the sources we
have for point reference data and how to integrate these with the new Business Register.