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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

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 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 also remained the same since 2000.  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

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)

 

*

*

*

*

*

 

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 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?’

The interviewer recorded participants’ responses using a list of actions people could take. Prompts if required 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
  • Hard to tell (Don’t know)

‘Don’t know’ answers were included with the ‘Hard to tell’ answer on the scale.

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

Limitations

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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