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Rationale

The update of the meshblock standard was carried out to reconfirm user needs for a geographic area that optimises data collection and aggregation. The new standard documents a clear purpose for meshblocks and the technical requirements to meet statistical and wider government requirements. It is largely consistent with the 1992 standard, with two main areas of change. First, technical requirements formerly documented by Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) are now included so that the standard reflects all of government practice. Second, minor changes were made to reflect how meshblocks will be managed with modern technology. The conceptual and fundamental basis of the meshblock remains the same as in 1992.

Meshblocks are the smallest geographic units defined by Statistics NZ. The New Zealand-wide system of meshblocks was established in 1976, although the term ‘meshblock’ was used in the 1916 Census of Population and Dwellings.

Meshblocks were designed as an input geography to allow flexibility when aggregated for collection and output purposes. Meshblocks were not designed to be an output area. However, there is high demand from statistical users for small-area statistics and census results were published for meshblocks from 1981–2013.

The physical landscape is constantly changing and cadastral adjustments are made to ensure the correct location of New Zealand's physical features. The placement and maintenance of meshblock boundaries is important to ensure that statistical data is coded to the correct meshblock and that eligible voters are assigned to their correct polling areas to ensure fair voting rights.

The meshblock pattern was first digitised in 1991 by the Department of Survey and Land Information. The coordinate system used from 1991 to 2001 was New Zealand Map Grid (NZMG). In 2001, LINZ adopted New Zealand Transverse Mercator (NZTM or NZTM2000) as the new standard projection for general mapping in New Zealand. This uses a Transverse Mercator projection and is based on the NZGD2000 datum using the GRS80 reference ellipsoid. From 2010, all digital patterns of the New Zealand meshblock, including Chatham Islands meshblocks, are projected NZTM only.

Statistics NZ took over the role of custodian of the digital meshblock pattern from LINZ on 1 February 2016.

This meshblock standard defines meshblocks and describes their primary purposes. The standard sets out requirements and guidelines for the creation and maintenance of the meshblock classification to maximise its usefulness as an input geography. It also identifies Statistics NZ’s responsibilities for maintaining the standard.

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