Home > The Body Politic > Only four years too late – TVNZ-Colmar Brunton catch up with The Daily Blog

Only four years too late – TVNZ-Colmar Brunton catch up with The Daily Blog



Four years ago, this blogger pointed out that then-existing polling methodologies – relying solely on landline respondents – was flawed. The 2013 Census had revealed a significant ‘chunk’ of the population had surrendered access to landlines, in favour of cellphone/smartphone usage.

In March 2013, this blogger pointed out that the 2013 Census contained this question;


Part of the problem are anecdotal  stories that many low income families, students, transients, etc, no longer rely on landlines and use only cellphones. Polling companies do not call cellphones – only landlines. (A low-income family living not far from us fits this demographic group perfectly; no landline; cellphones only. The sole-parent head of the household votes Labour.)

This year’s census has an interesting question; Question 17,


2013 survey - qu 17


The question asks the respondent to “mark as many spaces as you need to show which of these are available here in this dwelling”.


Out of all polling companies,  only Roy Morgan recognised changing usage of modern technology by actively calling  cellphones to reach respondants.

As if to underscore this new reality, in September 2013, even this blogger was contacted by Roy Morgan. Questions ranged from legalisation of cannabis; political party support; travelling; radio station preference; social issues; etc.

Clearly Stats NZ wanted to determine the extent to which cellphone penetration of households had supplanted landlines.

In December 2013, Statistics NZ released the data gleaned from Question 17 (see above). The results confirmed suspicions that political pollsters (aside from Roy Morgan) was not reaching a sizeable number of New Zealanders, and polling numbers were being skewed;


Yesterday (3 December 2013), Statistics NZ released the result of that question. The impact on political polling firms and their methodologies will no doubt be considerable;


Three-quarters of households now have Internet access

  • Internet access at home continued to rise, at 76.8 percent in 2013, compared with 60.5 percent in 2006 and 37.4 percent in 2001.
  • Cellphone access also increased, with 83.7 percent of households in 2013 having access to a cellphone at home, compared with 74.2 percent in 2006.
  • Access to a landline telephone decreased. In 2013, 85.5 percent of households had access to a landline telephone at home, down from 91.6 percent in 2006.
  • Fax access decreased. In 2013, 14.6 percent of households had access to a fax, down from 26.0 percent in 2006.
  • A small percentage of households (1.6 percent or 24,135 households) did not have access to any telecommunication systems at home. That is, they did not have a landline telephone, cellphone, Internet access, or a fax.


As I pointed out in that same blogpost;

Note that only “85.5% of households had access to a landline telephone at home, down from 91.6% in 2006”.

This means that 14.5% of households did not have access to a landline.

Almost precisely four years later, TVNZ had caught up.  On 8 December, TVNZ’s political editor, Corin Dann wrote;

“ It was a shock 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton Poll back in July showing Labour on just 24 per cent that prompted Mr Little to make an on-camera admission to me that he had considered resigning.


For me personally as Political Editor, the Andrew Little poll story is a very important reminder of the responsibility the media has, along with our polling companies, in presenting accurate polls and ensuring the methods we use are as good as they can possibly be.

As Andrew Little well knows, polls really matter.”

Dann went on to announce;

“ So it’s with that sense of responsibility – as well as a look to the future – that 1 NEWS and Colmar Brunton have now decided it is time to change our polling methodology.

In future we will no longer just poll telephone landlines. It will be a 50/50 split of mobiles and landlines.”

In explanation, he added;

“… during the course of the past year we at 1 NEWS, along with Colmar Brunton, felt it was right to start exploring whether adding mobile phones was prudent, given the rapid changes we are seeing in communication habits.

The fact is, landlines are no longer used by as many people. The best information we have on this is Census data from 2013 which confirms only 86 percent of households had a landline compared to 92 percent in 2006.”

Only four years late.

Perhaps this story illustrates that blogs – whilst not funded or otherwise resourced as richly as mainstream media – can be far more “nimble on their feet” when it comes to picking up, analysing, and commenting on developing trends.

For the second time, a blogger has red-flagged an issue that was belatedly picked up by the msm;


The mainstream media – or at least one clever journalist working for Mediaworks/Newshub – has finally caught up with a story broken by this blogger last year that unemployment data from Statistics NZ was no longer reliable;



It pays to keep an eye on blogs such as The Standard, No Right Turn, The Daily Blog, et al. The old saying holds true;

You heard it hear first, folks!





Stats NZ: 2013 Census QuickStats about national highlights –  Phone and Internet access

TVNZ:  Mobiles to be included in 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll for the first time in bid to reach more young voters

Mediaworks/Newshub:  Unemployment – Bad news NZ, it’s much worse than you think


The Spinoff:   The first big poll for ages is due. What would be a good result for Labour?

Mediaworks:  Patrick Gower – Newshub’s poll is vital and correct

Previous related blogposts

Mr Morgan phoned (2013)

Census, Surveys, and Cellphones (2013)

Census, Surveys, and Cellphones (Part rua) (2013)

MSM catches up on Unemployment stats rort

Roy Morgan poll confirms blogger’s prediction – National is in freefall





This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 10 December 2017.



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  1. 16 May 2018 at 8:01 am

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