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Meshblock requirements

When developing meshblock requirements, consideration is given to the purposes of meshblocks, the users of our data, wider government needs, existing practices, and international research.

All our geographic classifications should meet the following basic criteria. They should:

  • be mutually exclusive
  • have complete coverage
  • wherever possible, contain only geographically contiguous areas.

For the meshblock classification to meet the above criteria:

  • no meshblock should overlap another
  • meshblocks must cover all of New Zealand, including coasts and inlets, extending out to the 200 mile EEZ. Note: while the meshblock classification extends to the 200 mile EEZ, the meshblock geographic units are only digitised to the 12 mile limit.

As a flexible building block geography, suitable for grouping up to both collection and output geographies, meshblocks must be small.

  • The optimal size for a meshblock is 30–60 dwellings.
  • When meshblocks exceed 80 dwellings, they are reviewed for splitting.
  • Meshblocks should be no larger than 120 dwellings (unless they contain a large apartment block or other multi-dwelling building).
  • Some meshblocks will be zero population, for example water or high country meshblocks.

The boundaries of meshblocks:

  • should align to the cadastre, road centrelines, or railway centrelines
  • should, where appropriate, align to topographical features, for example river centrelines, ridgelines (see Appendix 1: Spatial alignment)
  • must not dissect or divide institutional populations, for example hospitals, business establishments, hotels
  • should not, where possible, cut through a land parcel
  • should, where possible, incorporate adjacent land parcels that have the same owner
  • should be physically identifiable and locatable on the ground
  • should keep communities of interest together
  • should, where possible, be easily traversable on foot by survey enumerators
  • that align with electoral boundaries must not be adjusted, unless requested as part of a representation review. (Electoral boundaries must align with meshblocks, as set out in the Local Electoral Act 2001, Sections 19T, 19U and 19W.)

If no meaningful features exist near the proposed meshblock boundary, point-to-point boundaries are allowed. These are boundaries that have been digitally defined by drawing a line across the ground without reference to any meaningful features.

Meshblocks are maintained by splitting, amalgamating, and nudging their boundaries to ensure they are relevant for their purpose and continue to meet the standard.

See Operational issues – meshblock maintenance for information about meshblock maintenance.

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