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  Environment » Environmental Information » Environmental indicators » Social and economic: monitoring and reporting » People’s public environmental actions » Methods - how we monitor

Methods - how we monitor

Where and how we collect the data

People’s environmental awareness, attitudes, knowledge and behaviours are identified through repeated cross-sectional surveys. The structure of the questionnaire measures the key concepts of environmental awareness (knowledge, awareness and concern), attitudes, and behaviour.

Monitoring sites

Previous years have seen data collection primarily completed using Computer-Aided Telephone Interviewing (CATI) and supplemented with face to face intercept interviewing to ensure a representative sample was collected across the region. However, the significant decrease in landline ownership over the past three years has made collecting a robust sample using CATI difficult. As such, the 2019 survey method changed to a mixed method approach to data collection. The collection methods were designed to ensure that a wide cross section of residents were reached within this project. A total n=1,250 surveys were completed across all sources. Sample sources for data collection comprised of the following methods:

  • Electoral roll: this was the primary sample source for this project, with n=14,000 invitations sent to Waikato Region residents. Each invite included a link to the survey for residents to complete the survey online. Any residents unable to complete the survey online were able to request a paper copy be sent to them.
  • Online collection: Versus Research collected additional surveys online through paid social media advertisements and also through a third party panel provider.
  • Intercept interviewing: Hard copy surveys were distributed across the region and were placed in retail outlets and supermarkets.
  • Telephone interviewing: A small telephone component was included to ensure there were a sufficient number of responses achieved in some of the smaller rural areas.

Monitoring frequency

Surveys will be repeated every three years, with the next survey planned for 2022.

Monitoring history

This survey has been carried out seven times:

  • June 1998 (benchmark survey)
  • October to November 2000
  • September to October 2003
  • September to October 2006
  • January to March 2013
  • February to March 2016
  • April to May 2019

The table below shows the range of questions asked for each survey regarding public actions over the years.  Year to year there have always been three questions asked.  The benchmark survey was carried out in 1998. In 1998, question one asked: ‘In the last year or so, have you tried to get some information, advice, or been involved in any kind of public meetings, official hearings or consent processes with the aim of protecting the environment?’ ‘Yes’ answers were followed by question two: ‘What did you do?’ Answers to the second question were followed by question three: ‘Generally, how effective do you feel <actions taken, from above> was/were?’

As shown in the table, question two has always remained the same. Question three has generally remained the same since 2000 with a slight variation in 2019. Question one however has varied, and in 2016 the latest change reduced the question further to remove ‘public action, meetings, official hearings or consent processes’.   

 

Range of questions asked regarding public actions for each survey over the years

1998

2000

2003

2006

2013

2016

2019

Question 1.

 

 

In the last year or so, have you tried to get some information, advice, or been involved in any kind of public meetings, official hearings or consent processes with the aim of protecting the environment? (Yes/No)

*

*

 

 

 

 

 

In the last year or so, have you been involved in any kind of public action, meetings, official hearings or consent processes with the aim of protecting the environment? Prompts: signing a petition; attended any meetings; been involved in a council consent process or made a submission? (Yes/No)

 

 

*

*

*

 

 

In the last year or so, have you been involved in any kind of public action with the aim of protecting the environment? (Yes/No)

 

 

 

 

 

*

*

Question 2.

What did you do?

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

Question 3.

 

Generally, how effective do you feel actions taken, was/were? (Not effective at all, fairly effective, very effective, don’t know/unsure)

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

Generally, how effective do you feel this/these action/s was/were? (Not effective at all, fairly effective, very effective, don’t know/unsure/hard to tell)

 

*

*

*

*

*

 

And how effective do you feel the actions were? (Not effective at all, fairly effective, very effective, don’t know)

            *

 

Measurement technique

  • The 2019 survey involved a mixed method approach to data collection. The collection methods were designed to ensure that a wide cross section of residents were reached. A total n=1,250 surveys were completed across all sources. Sample sources for data collection comprised of the following:
Data collection type Number of completed surveys % of final sample composition
Electoral roll 959 77%
Online 217 17%
Intercept 48 4%
Telephone 26 2%
Total 1,250 100%
  • The questions were developed, reviewed and pilot-tested before inclusion in the final survey.
  • Age and gender weightings have been applied to the final data set for this project. Weighting ensures that specific demographic groups are neither under- nor over-represented in the final data set and that each group is represented as it would be in the population. The proportions used for the gender and age weights are taken from the 2013 Census (Statistics New Zealand).
  • The final sample size provides a maximum margin of error of +/- 2.8 per cent at the 95 per cent confidence interval. 

How this indicator is compiled

See monitoring history for the question formats for these surveys.

The first question asked: ‘In the last year or so, have you been involved in any kind of public action with the aim of protecting the environment?’

The second question asked: ‘What did you do?’

Participants’ responses were recorded and these were later coded. Prompts were provided on the survey or via interviews and included ‘signing a petition; attended any meetings; been involved in a council consent process or made a submission’.

The third question asked: ‘And generally, how effective do you feel this/these actions were?’

A four-point scale was used to record how effective people thought their actions were:

  • Very effective
  • Fairly effective
  • Not effective at all
  • Don’t know

The regional result is compiled into the per cent of people giving each answer.

Limitations

Many factors influence people’s environmental actions, including where and how people live, what news media items they have recently seen and who they are. These influences are not measured by quantitative questionnaires. 

 

 

Updated 27 June 2019

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