Provisional monthly results on COVID-19 impacts: 2020/21 New Zealand Health Survey

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The 2020/21 New Zealand Health Survey (NZHS) included questions to monitor how New Zealanders were being impacted by COVID-19. Many of these questions were previously included in the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Health and Wellbeing Survey.

Provisional monthly results were released for selected indicators from the 2020/21 NZHS. These monthly results covered:

  • health status and mental health
  • health behaviours to prevent COVID-19
  • information received about COVID-19
  • worries about COVID-19.

Provisional monthly results were provided for the following population groups:

  • total adult population of New Zealand
  • men and women
  • Māori and non-Māori
  • neighbourhood deprivation quintiles (measurement of neighbourhood socioeconomic deprivation)
  • age group.

The results were used to understand what additional support and information New Zealanders require around COVID-19.

Surveying for the 2020/21 NZHS has now finished. Results for June 2021 will be the final release of provisional monthly results from the NZHS.

Key findings

Key findings for June 2021 (for adults aged 15 years and above) were as follows. 

Health status and mental health

  • 88.4 percent of respondents reported that their health is good, very good or excellent.
  • 9.1 percent had experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress in the past 4 weeks.
  • 12.1 percent of adults felt lonely some, most or all of the time. The rate for Māori was 24.6 percent compared to 10.3 percent for non-Māori.

Health behaviours to prevent COVID-19

  • 21.5 percent recorded the places they’ve been and who they were with (eg, in a diary or app) every time.
  • 74.6 percent covered their mouth and nose with a tissue, their sleeve or elbow every time they’d coughed or sneezed.
  • 36.5 percent washed their hands for at least 20 seconds with water and soap and dried them (or used hand sanitiser) every time after touching surfaces outside of the home.
  • 51.6 percent washed their hands for at least 20 seconds with water and soap and dried them (or used hand sanitiser) every time before eating or handling food.

Information received about COVID-19

  • 81 percent of adults agreed or strongly agreed that they have good information about COVID-19.
  • 91.5 percent agreed or strongly agreed that they can get information about COVID-19 in words they understand.
  • 35 percent were slightly or very worried about the information about COVID-19 coming from their main information source in the past 7 days (among those who have sought COVID-19 information).
  • 63.6 percent reported that their main source of information on COVID-19 in the last 7 days was either TV, newspapers, radio, or online news websites.
  • 4.7 percent reported that government websites were their main source of information about COVID-19, while 15.7 percent reported that social media was their main source of information.
  •  6.4 percent had not tried to get any information about COVID-19 in the past 7 days.

Worries about COVID-19

  • 48.2 percent were strongly or somewhat worried about the health of their family members.
  • 21.2 percent were strongly or somewhat worried about the risk of getting COVID-19.
  • 6.2 percent were strongly or somewhat stressed about leaving home.
  • 8.5 percent agreed or strongly agreed that their household has struggled to pay for basic living costs such as food or accommodation.

The 2020/21 NZHS also asked about face mask use on public transport. However, only around ten percent of respondents had been on public transport in the last 7 days. Of the 73 respondents who had done so in June 2021, approximately 76 percent always wore a mask when on public transport in the last 7 days.

Data can also be downloaded as a .csv file.

Survey details

The surveying for the 2020/21 NZHS started on 4 September 2020 and finished in June 2021. Fieldwork started later in the year than usual as the NZHS was suspended from March 2020 because of COVID-19.

Data is collected nationwide by a specialist survey provider, Reach Aotearoa (formerly CBG Health Research). Face-to-face interviews are conducted in the homes of respondents by Reach Aotearoa interviewers. Over 13,000 adults and the parents or primary caregivers of over 4,000 children take part in the survey each year. The provisional monthly results were based on responses from approximately 900 adult respondents who are surveyed per month.

The survey methodology for 2020/21 has remained the same as in previous years. The 2020/21 Methodology Report and Content Guide will be published in on 18 November 2021. Further details about the NZHS methodology are available in Methodology Report 2019/20: New Zealand Health Survey.

Further details about the survey questions are available in the 2020/21 NZHS Adult Questionnaire (Word, 800 KB).


The NZHS has a multi-stage sampling design that involves randomly selecting a sample of small geographic areas, households within the selected areas, and individuals within the selected households. One adult aged 15 years or older and one child aged 14 years or younger (if any in the household) were chosen at random from each selected household.

Survey respondents are selected from the 'usually resident' population of all ages living in private dwellings, aged-care facilities and student accommodation (99% of the eligible population). For practical reasons, the survey did not include: people living in institutions (such as long-term hospital care, hospital- and dementia-level care in aged-care facilities and prisons), the homeless, short-term visitors and tourists.

Further details are available in Sample Design from 2015/16: New Zealand Health Survey.

The ability to interview face-to-face in February and March 2021 was restricted in Auckland during heightened Alert Levels. 


Results from the NZHS are usually released annually, but to support the need for regular data relating to COVID-19, the Ministry was releasing provisional monthly results from the 2020/21 New Zealand Health Survey. Note that the sample size for each month is quite small so caution should be used when exploring any changes over time and between population groups. The results have been weighted to be representative of the New Zealand adult population, using census data on distributions of ethnicity, age, sex and neighbourhood deprivation.

The monthly results are provisional and should be used with caution. To enable sharing of timely and relevant information, the data cleaning and quality assurance processes have not yet been fully completed. These results may therefore need to be revised in the future.

The data presented includes the prevalence estimate for the indicator, the upper and lower 95% confidence interval of the estimate, and the number of people who answered each question each month. Wider confidence intervals indicate more uncertainty in the statistics than narrow intervals, usually because of more variation between people or smaller sample sizes. When confidence intervals for two statistics don't overlap, there is a statistically significant difference between them. However, overlapping confidence intervals do not always mean that the difference is not significant. Due to the small numbers of people being surveyed each month, sometimes even large differences won't be statistically significant.


If you have any queries about the NZHS, please email [email protected].

Please also email us if you have any feedback about how useful these provisional monthly results were or any suggestions for improvements.

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