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Media releases 2012

20/12/12 - New Zealanders’ perceptions of their current financial position and their plans for Christmas
The experts tell us that the New Zealand economy is not out of the woods yet, and employees have not seen much by way of wage and salary increases during 2012. This could be expected to have an impact on spending plans for Christmas and the Christmas holidays. To establish New Zealanders’ attitudes and intentions towards spending on Christmas and the Christmas holidays, we therefore decided to repeat a series of questions we last asked in December 2010 relating to spending plans during Christmas and the holidays.

The key results are as follows:

  • Many feel financially better off than they did at the same time last year (44%), although off-setting this, a significant number believe their financial position has deteriorated (33%). Twenty percent believe there has been no change in their financial position.
  • Despite many feeling better off, planned spending on Christmas presents, etc. is restrained with just 12% saying they are likely to spend more than they did last Christmas. In comparison, 37% are planning to spend less and 49% planning to spend the same.
  • Planned spending on Christmas holidays shows a similar pattern, with 18% planning to spend more than they did last year compared with 29% planning to spend less. Forty-five percent are planning to spend the same.
  • There is a positive correlation between spending less on Christmas and age. That is, those over 35 years of age have more restrained intentions.
  • Those on higher incomes of $80,000 plus are as likely as those on lower incomes to say their spending will be restrained.
Click here to read or download the media release

19/11/12 - Attitudes to ageing
New Zealanders are living longer, meaning that the proportion of people 65 years and older is rising. It has been estimated that the population aged 65 years and more (the current age of eligibility for New Zealand Superannuation and for many the age of retirement) will have grown from 13 percent of the population in 2011 to 21 percent in 2031. However, age is popularly considered a state of mind, and one may continue to live a productive life well beyond the age of qualifying for New Zealand Superannuation; some in paid work, others in voluntary work for the benefit of the community.

The European Community’s Eurobarometer in September–November 2011 (a survey of the 27 member countries and 5 neighbouring countries) asked, inter alia, questions about attitudes related to ageing. We decided to replicate a few of the questions in order to compare the New Zealand responses with those of respondents in key countries in the European Union, particularly a question about the age at which a person is perceived to be old. The key results are as follows:

  • In New Zealand, the average age at which people believe a person is old is 62 years.
  • In contrast, a person is considered young until they are 35 years of age.
  • There are significant differences in terms of these perceptions by age, gender and ethnicity.
Click here to read or download the media release

21/09/12 - Same Sex Marriages, Civil Union and Adoption
Parliament is now considering a bill, which, if passed into law, would change the meaning of marriage, as defined in the 1955 Marriage Act, to include marriage between same sex couples. This would also have the effect of permitting same sex couples to adopt children.

A further Private Member’s bill has been drawn, which requires the Law Commission to consider the Adoption Act 1955 and the Care of Children Act 2004, and report its findings to the Minister of Justice. The expectation is that the Law Commission will recommend that same sex couples in a civil union, as opposed to marriage, would be able to adopt children.

We decided to establish what support there is these law changes among the New Zealand public and asked three questions in a recent omnibus survey:

  • A bill was recently introduced in Parliament, which, if it becomes law, would allow same sex couples to marry. Are you in favour or not in favour of same sex couples being allowed to marry?
  • At present, same sex couples are not permitted to adopt children. If same sex couples were to marry, they would be able to adopt children under the present law. In your view, should same sex couples who are married, be able to adopt children?
  • And in your view, should same sex civil union couples be able to adopt children?

The New Zealand public have a fairly liberal attitude to the question of same sex marriage, 49 percent are in favour, 32 percent opposed and 15 percent saying they don’t care one way or the other. In effect, 64 percent support, or at least do not oppose, same sex marriages.

If same sex couples are married they are automatically able to adopt children. Some 64 percent are in favour of this being the case, while 31 percent are not in favour. However, same sex couples in a civil union are not able to adopt children under current law. Nevertheless, 62 percent of respondents are in favour of same sex couples in civil union being able to adopt children.
Click here to read or download the media release

21/09/12 - Breakfasts for Children in Decile 1-3 Schools
The Leader of the Opposition, Mr David Shearer, recently announced that a Labour Government would work with community groups to provide at least one free meal a day to the 119,000 children in decile 1-3 schools. Research New Zealand decided to test the popularity of this policy with the public of New Zealand, and asked a question about this in a recent omnibus survey. Not surprisingly, it proved to be very popular with 68 percent of respondents in favour and 25 percent opposed. It was even more popular with people in the age group 18-34 years, the age group more likely to have children that would be affected, at 84 percent in favour.
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12/07/12 - School Achievement Ratings or League Tables and Performance Pay for Teachers
The government has expressed a wish for parents to be able to compare schools (years 1-8) using so-called league tables, or achievement ratings based on their national standards results. “With parents ‘desperate’ to measure school quality, league tables created by the Ministry of Education could be the best solution”, said Prime Minister John Key. It is expected that achievement ratings, or ‘league tables’ will be published in September 2012. In addition to achievement ratings, there has been a good deal of discussion about performance pay for teachers.

We decided to investigate public opinion of the subject and included two questions in its recent omnibus survey.

There is a clear majority in favour of achievement ratings for schools, or league tables, being published. 55 percent were in favour and 37 percent were not in favour.

There is also a clear majority in favour of performance-based pay for teachers. 55 percent were in favour and 39 percent were not in favour.
Click here to read or download the media release

12/07/12 - Exploration and Mining in World Heritage Sites
In 2011 an aerial magnetometer survey was conducted in Northland. The survey included World Heritage sites, some of which are protected from mining under Schedule 4 of the Conservation Act 1987 and some that are not. A similar survey will be carried out on the West Coast in 2012, which will also include World Heritage sites.

The Prime Minister was quick to point out that there would be no mining in World Heritage sites, whether or not they were protected under Schedule 4. However, sceptics note that this is not the same as placing World Heritage sites under the protection of Schedule 4.

Questions to investigate public opinion on these issues were included in our latest omnibus survey.

There was a clear majority in favour of exploring the possibility of minerals being found on the West Coast of the South Island at 52 percent in favour and 37 percent not in favour. However, when it comes to the government permitting any mineral deposits found in World Heritage sites to be mined, the difference between those who favour mining and those who do not was more narrow at 42 percent in favour and 49 percent not in favour.
Click here to read or download the media release

12/07/12 - The Auckland Inner City Rail Link
The decision has been made to go ahead with the Auckland Inner City Rail Link that will connect Britomart Station with Mt Eden Station, requiring the acquisition of a large number of buildings and two or possibly three tunnels. Opinions in Auckland seemed to be divided on the subject and we decided therefore to ask the Auckland respondents (n=119) in a recent omnibus survey, whether they were in favour of the Inner City Rail Link, or Loop.

Some 63 percent approved of the Inner City Rail Link being constructed and 29 percent disapproved. While based on a small sample, the difference is sufficiently large to be statistically significant.
Click here to read or download the media release

12/07/12 - Christchurch Cathedral
What to do about the Christchurch Cathedral is a topic that divides the citizens of Christchurch. The Bishop of Christchurch announced that a decision has been made to demolish the Cathedral to a level of 2–3 meters and re-build the cathedral from there. Others favour a solution where as much as possible of the cathedral is saved so that it can be restored.

We decided to ask our Canterbury respondents in a recent omnibus survey which of these two options they favoured. Forty-eight percent favour demolishing the cathedral to a level of 2–3 meters and re-build from there, while 26 percent felt as little as possible should be removed from the cathedral. While based on a small sample, the difference is sufficiently large to be statistically significant.
Click here to read or download the media release

08/06/12 - Confidence in the Government’s Management of the Economy following the Release of the Budget
The government presented its 2012-13 Budget on Thursday 24 May 2012. It is fair to say that the Budget lived up to its name, a zero-budget. The government had undoubtedly hoped that the Budget would be seen as right for its time, and inspire confidence in the government’s management of the economy. We decided to find out whether the government had achieved this objective by asking 500 New Zealanders whether, as a result of the budget, they now have more or less confidence in the government’s management of the economy.

Eighteen percent of respondents have more confidence in the government management of the economy as a result of the budget. Forty-nine percent have less confidence as a result of the Budget.

Those who, as a result of the budget, now have more confidence in the government’s management of the economy are primarily males (23 percent) and those earning over $80,000 per year (30 percent). Those who, as a result of the budget, now have less confidence in the government’s management of the economy are primarily females (53 percent) and those on incomes of less than $40,000 per year (54 percent).
Click here to read or download the media release

23/05/12 - The Government’s Scorecard One Day Out from the Budget 2012
The Government is one day out from the Budget for 2012. It faces a number of issues which are controversial as far as the public are concerned. We identified nine issues where we thought it would be interesting to ask for the public’s approval or disapproval of the government’s performance.

These include its management of the economy, the restructuring of the public service, and the sale of farms to overseas residents and companies.
Click here to read or download the media release

14/05/12 - Female Beneficiaries and Long-term Contraception
The government recently proposed that female beneficiaries should be given the option of government-funded long-term contraception. Participation in this programme will be entirely voluntary on the part of the beneficiaries concerned. This can involve the implantation of a contraceptive device under the skin of the arm, or an intra-uterine implant. The implant can be removed on request; this will also be government funded.

Not unexpectedly, this created a good deal of controversy, largely on the basis that while participation is voluntary, it may not been seen as such by beneficiaries; who, because of their dependence on a benefit, may feel under pressure to participate in the programme.
Click here to read or download the media release

05/03/12 - Four new polls released
As you know February 22 was the anniversary of the devastating earthquake, which brought so much destruction to Christchurch. Local bodies have a crucial role in approving plans and inspecting buildings during construction, and we therefore took the opportunity to ask respondents in our latest omnibus survey, questions relating to their confidence that residential and commercial buildings approved and inspected by their local council meet the building code and are safe to occupy.
Click here to read or download the media release

At the same time we conducted polls on whether respondents approved or disapproved of the tracking of 111 calls made on mobile phones. When this was suggested in a review of the 111 Service, some commentators felt this was potentially a breach of the caller’s privacy.
Click here to read or download the media release

Child abuse continues to be a concern in New Zealand. We conducted an earlier poll on this, but felt it was timely to conduct another measurement. This time we widened the question set to include some other factors that have been said to play a role in child abuse, among them the so-called ‘Cinderella Effect’. It has been demonstrated conclusively that children are at much greater risk of abuse from a non-biological parent, particularly the male non-biological parent.
Click here to read or download the media release

Finally, we asked questions about whether ANZAC Day should become our National Day, given that the celebration of Waitangi Day at Waitangi has become rather controversial. We also asked whether Waitangi Day and ANZAC Day should become ‘Mondayised’.
Click here to read or download the media release

07/02/12 - Confidence in personal financial situation
There is still a great deal of uncertainty about the New Zealand economy during 2012. The news media continue to carry reports of redundancies in the public service and elsewhere, and the uncertain prospect for the Eurozone economies continues to make headlines.

One would imagine that New Zealanders, when they reflect on their personal financial prospects, factor in these uncertainties.

Research New Zealand has conducted regular polls on the expectations New Zealanders have for their personal financial situation, including polls in April 2010 and May 2011, and again more recently in January 2012.

In January 2012, about one-third of respondents (34 percent) felt their personal financial situation would improve in the next 12 months, while 20 percent felt it would get worse. While the proportion believing their personal financial situation will improve is similar to that recorded in May 2011 (29 percent), the proportion believing their financial situation will get worse is significantly smaller (29 percent).

However, the results for January 2012 and May 2011 are significantly less positive than those recorded in April 2010, when 58 percent of respondents felt their personal financial situation would improve in the next 12 months and 18 percent felt it would get worse.

"It is clear that expectations in 2012 have not improved significantly when compared with the two earlier measurements and confidence in one’s personal financial situation is in the doldrums", said Research New Zealand Director, Emanuel Kalafatelis.

Those who have the least confidence their personal financial situation improving in the next 12 months are the elderly. Only 14 percent of those in the age group 55 years and over expect their financial situation to improve in the next 12 months, while 44 percent of those in the age group 35-54 years, and 42 percent of those in the age group 18-34 years do so. Males also had more confidence in their personal financial situation improving than did females (38 percent vs. 30 percent).

Optimism is considerably higher in the Upper North Island at 43 percent, compared to the Lower/Central North Island (24 percent) and the South Island (28 percent). "No doubt this reflects lay-offs in the public sector, which particularly affect Wellington, and the earthquake in Christchurch and the slow progress in rebuilding the city", said Research New Zealand Director, Emanuel Kalafatelis.
Click here to read or download the media release

07/02/12 - Reasons for non-voting
In the recent General Election some 74 percent of enrolled voters cast their vote and 26 percent did not. There has been much speculation about the reasons for the low turn-out, particularly since the voter turn-out in New Zealand elections has traditionally been around the 80 percent mark.

Identifying the reasons for the low voter turn-out would require a survey of non-voters. However, because of the relatively small incidence of non-voting, compared to voting, such a survey would require a much larger sample than is available through the Research New Zealand monthly omnibus.

As a result, we decided to conduct a survey to find out what New Zealanders in general thought were the reasons for the low turnout in the 2011 General Election. The most common response was that it was apathy or lack of interest on the part of the non-voters that resulted in the low turnout (73 percent).

Smaller, but not insignificant proportions felt that the low turnout was because non-voters were disillusioned with politicians and government in general (14 percent), while 13 percent thought the non-voters didn’t think their vote would make a difference.

Nine percent said the reason was that people believed National would win anyway, and a further nine percent said that the non-voters believed there hadn’t been enough information about the policies of the different political parties.

Females were more likely than males to attribute non-voting to apathy and lack of interest than were male voters, at 77 percent as against 69 percent. Young people (18-34 years) were less likely to attribute non-voting to apathy or lack of interest, at 66 percent, than were those 55 years and over at 81 percent.

South Island respondents were particularly likely to attribute non-voting to disillusionment with politicians and government in general at 17 percent, compared with 10 percent in the Lower/Central North Island.

"Whatever a survey of non-voters might show as the reason for the low turn-out, the fact is that the election campaign did not motivate the kind of election turnout that New Zealand had experienced in the most recent elections, such as 2005 and 2008, when the turn-out was close to 80 percent", said Research New Zealand Director, Emanuel Kalafatelis. "The turn-out was probably not helped by the consistently high level of support Mr Key had in the polls right through the first term of the current National Government", he concluded.
Click here to read or download the media release

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