COMPASS surveys

Probabilistic Online Panel for New Zealand (POPNZ)

Online panels are samples of individuals on whom different online surveys are conducted over time. Currently all online panels in New Zealand (NZ) are commercially run, and are ‘non-probabilistic’ (opt-in) panels, populated by individuals who volunteer their services. The statistical validity and robustness of findings from non-probabilistic panels has been questioned.

‘Probabilistic’ online panels overcome these statistical shortcomings by randomly sampling individuals from the population of interest. Probabilistic panels have been shown to produce robust and reliable findings that can be generalised to the greater population. There is currently no probabilistic online panel in NZ; the availability of one will overcome many of the challenges that researchers face when attempting to access a probability sample. 

A report undertaken by COMPASS and the Public Policy Institute concluded that establishing an online panel in NZ is feasible, and that the electoral roll constitutes an ideal sampling frame.

In July 2017, the Vice Chancellor’s Strategic Development Fund (VCSDF) awarded COMPASS funding to determine the demand for a probabilistic online panel.  An assessment of demand will be completed by December 2017 and, if demand is demonstrated, a probabilistic online panel will be established.

International Social Survey Programme (ISSP)

COMPASS has run the ISSP survey for New Zealand since 2013. The ISSP is a continuing annual programme of cross-national collaboration on surveys covering topics important for social science research. It brings together pre-existing social science projects and coordinates research goals, thereby adding a cross-national, cross-cultural perspective to the individual national studies. ISSP researchers especially concentrate on developing questions that are meaningful and relevant to all countries, and can be expressed in an equivalent manner in all relevant languages. There are 48 countries that contribute data to the ISSP. COMPASS became a member officially in 2016. We have rebranded the survey as the Social Attitudes Survey New Zealand for an audience unfamiliar with the ISSP.

The data sets and metadata for all of the ISSP surveys for New Zealand can be downloaded from our area of the University's Figshare repository at The surveys from 1991 to 2010 were run by Professor Phil Gendall, out of the Department of Marketing at Massey University, an impressive achievement.

Further specific information on the surveys that we as COMPASS have run has come substantially from summer students that we have been privileged to host over the last few years, as well as from COMPASS Staff. These have included efforts to apply survey weights to the data sets, as well as ensuring that we meet the requirements of the international body, especially in terms of the derivations of demographic variables, which we have asked differently, but are making changes to in the 2017 survey, in order to streamline the process of submitting our data sets to the ISSP.

From the 2015 survey on Work Orientations, which we combined with the 2014 module on Citizenship: 

From the 2016 survey on the Role of Government: 


New Zealand Election Study (NZES)

COMPASS has run the NZES survey since the General Election in 2011. Through the analysis of political behaviour over successive New Zealand elections, we have been monitoring the democratic process in New Zealand during a period of social and economic change and, most particularly, during the transition between electoral systems: the first past the post (FPP) or plurality electoral system in effect in New Zealand from the origins of the political system, and the new Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system which is in effect from the 1996 election. The NZES began in its present form in 1990. The NZES’s main source of data are questionnaires which are posted to randomly selected registered electors across the country immediately following each election. Questions focus on voting choices, political opinions, and social and demographic characteristics.