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  Environment » Environmental Information » Environmental indicators » Social and economic: monitoring and reporting » People's satisfaction with the environment » 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

A random selection of individual households for 1,095 of those surveyed, followed with a convenience sample of 155 intercept interviews at various locations in the Waikato region.

Monitoring frequency

Surveys will be repeated every three years, with the next survey planned for 2019.

Monitoring history

This survey has been carried out six 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

The benchmark survey was carried out in 1998. In 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2013 and 2016 respondents were asked: “Overall taking everything into account, I would like you to think about how satisfied you are with your local environment in general. Please use a scale from 1 to 10, where a score of 1 means you find your local environment completely unsatisfactory and a score of 10 means it is perfect in every way”.

Measurement technique

  • The 2016 survey utilised a sequential mixed method approach to interviewing. This involved both telephone (n=1,095) and intercept interviewing (n=155). Telephone interviewing was initially used to canvass the population, while intercept interviewing was used to ensure demographic representation of the region was achieved. Thirteen per cent of the total sample was collected via intercept interviewing. 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. Weighting gives greater confidence that the final results are representative of the Waikato region population overall and are not skewed by a particular demographic group. 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 +/- 2.77 per cent at the 95 per cent confidence interval. 

How this indicator was compiled

One question was asked to measure people’s levels of satisfaction with their local environment using a rating scale where a score of 1 means the local environment is completely unsatisfactory and a score of 10 means it is perfect in every way. ‘Don’t know’ answers were also recorded.

See monitoring history for the format of the statements.


There are two limitations to using telephone questionnaires to assess people’s environmental perceptions:

  • Telephone questionnaires are biased towards people owning landline telephones, and therefore may miss some people in the community. Intercept interviewing was added to the method this year as younger residents are becoming increasingly difficult to reach using telephone interviewing alone.
  • Many factors influence people’s personal 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. 
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