Statistics New Zealand v Small [2019] NZDC 24955

Published 21 January 2021

Pretrial ruling — admissibility of evidence — neglected or refused to fill in and supply census information — identification evidence — circumstantial evidence — 2018 census — Statistics Act 1975, s 43(1) — Evidence Act 2006, s 45. The defendant faced one charge that he neglected or refused to fill in and supply particulars, individual form, lawfully sent to him in respect of the 2018 census of population and dwellings. He had failed to fill out his 2018 census individual form, despite multiple letters and visits to his home by Statistics New Zealand employees. The defendant objected to evidence that the department proposed to lead, being evidence from a field officer describing the appearance of the person that answered the door at the defendant's residence. It was argued that this amounted to identity evidence and as there had been no formal identification procedure pursuant to s 45 of the Evidence Act that it was not admissible. Statistics New Zealand conceded there was no formal procedure undertaken but submitted it was not identification evidence, but rather resemblance evidence, meaning it fit the definition of circumstantial evidence and therefore was admissible. As circumstantial evidence, it would be up to the Court at trial to determine what weight should be given to it. The Judge agreed with Statistics New Zealand and the evidence was ruled admissible. Judgment Date: 9 December 2019.