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Charged for refusing to take part in census

Statistics New Zealand has prosecuted two Gisborne people for refusing to participate in last year’s census.

The separate cases were called together in Gisborne District Court yesterday but neither of the defendants turned up.

Debbie Matenga and Semonn Ariti Sneddon each faced two charges laid under the Statistics Act 1975 – one for refusing to fill out a household questionnaire and one for refusing to fill out an individual questionnaire.

The charges were formally proved in their absence on evidence provided for the court by a Statistics New Zealand analyst of about 40 years’ experience.

The court heard that the usual process of trying to gain each of the defendant’s participation had been employed but both made their refusals plain.

Matenga told a field officer on a follow-up visit to her house that she did not care about the prospect of a fine. She thought Gisborne was in a rut from current leaders and would not come out of it, regardless of a census.

A field officer was unable to get out of his car when Sneddon advanced on him aggressively, swearing and raising her arms and middle fingers.

Prosecutor Leighvi Maynard told The Gisborne Herald to his knowledge there was only one other person in the district who actively refused to take part in last year’s census.

A prosecution is also under way for that person, whose case is yet to be called.