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As we transition to our new site, you'll still find some Stats NZ information here on this archive site.

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Operational issues

Changes to statistical geographies

Changes to the meshblock digital boundary and classification are applied continuously. A public release is made on 1 January each year with ad hoc releases available to users at other times.

See the Statistical standard for meshblock for more information about meshblock maintenance.

The statistical areas (SA1 and SA2) and urban rural geographies are also released on 1 January each year. The annual update may sometimes have no changes from the previous release.

Changes to SA1 geographies are triggered by:

  • alteration of local government boundaries
  • adjustments to meshblock boundaries.

Changes to all statistical geographies may occur after:

  • a five-yearly review prior to each Census of Population and Dwellings
  • a major review every 15–20 years.

The five-yearly review examines changes in population patterns using the latest census data and population estimates, aerial imagery, building consents applications, address registers, property title data, and any other available information. The review identifies where meshblocks and urban boundaries need to be adjusted to include areas of actual and anticipated growth in the next 5–8 years. Population change may also trigger changes to SA1 and SA2 boundaries to maintain the population limits and to improve community of interest delineation.

The urban rural indicator classification will be reviewed after each census to determine whether an area’s urban size group or rural settlement status has changed.

Changes to local government boundaries

There are four mechanisms through which local government boundaries may change.

1. The Local Government Act 2002 by:

  • notices in the New Zealand Gazette signed by the Minister of Local Government under schedule 2 
  • land reclaimed from the sea that automatically forms part of the adjoining district under schedule 2 
  • orders in Council implementing a reorganisation scheme issued under schedule 3
  • constitution of a community under schedule 6
  • orders in Council implementing a determination of the Local Government Commission under section 26.

2. Representation reviews may be carried out under the Local Electoral Act 2001.

3. Occasionally boundaries may be altered or defined by an Act of Parliament.

4. Natural processes such as the middle line of a river changing its natural course (schedule 2, part 3 of the Local Government Act 2002), and changes to coastal boundaries through accretion or gradual erosion (common law).

Changes to electoral boundaries

Under the Electoral Act, the boundaries of the general and Māori electorates must be reviewed after each population census and Māori Electoral Option, which is also conducted every five years.

Using the census results, the Government Statistician reports on the number of General and Māori electorates that will be required in future elections. With assistance from Stats NZ, the Representation Commission prepares draft boundaries which it then releases for public comment. The final electorate boundaries are released after a round of consultation and public hearings. These boundaries remain in place until the next review is completed.

The current electorate boundaries released in April 2014 were used for the 2014 and 2017 elections. The next boundary review will take place in 2019 and the new boundaries will apply to the 2020 and 2023 General Elections.

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