Skip to content

Māori and general electoral population by small local area

Māori and general electoral populations are calculated by geographical areas for use by representation commissions but this data is not made publicly available. It's possible that there are privacy concerns about releasing this data at the meshblock level but there should be no issue with releasing them at higher geographies. Ethnicity data is already released at the meshblock level. The data should be released as a tabulated data file (preferrably TSV or CSV, but an Excel spreadsheet will do) with the most recent data (probably 2013-4, but there may be 2018-9 data available by the time this request is assessed). Columns would be "Māori electoral population" and "general electoral population". Rows would be geographic areas, ideally meshblocks but if there are privacy issues then larger local geographies will do (e.g. area units/SA1/SA2).

Electorate boundaries are required to fit within an population range based on their electoral population. For general electorates the general electoral population is used and for Māori electorates, the Māori electoral population is used. Submitters need to know these electoral populations to understand whether boundary changes are feasible, without this data the ability to make effective submissions is significantly limited.

In particular, without this data it is not feasible for a submission to do much more than tweak existing boundaries. It is possible that there are undiscovered redistricting options that would affect a group of electorates and result in a overall better balance of community of interest. Without access to the population data, members of the public cannot investigate these options and submit these sorts of proposals.

Between representation commissions this data is useful for researchers investigating a range of subjects such as changes to the number of electorates, different types of electoral system, geographic characteristics of the Māori electoral populationm variation in turnout by local area. Māori electorates tend to have a low turn-out: this data could help researchers to better understand why this is.

It would give members of the public the data they need to make effective submissions to representation commissions.

It would give electoral system researchers the data they need to investigate the effects of potential changes to the electoral system.

It would give electoral data researchers the population denominators they need to put other electoral data in context.

Ben Arnold

Response from
Statistics New Zealand


The Representation Commission has released its proposed electorate boundaries and names for the 2020 and 2023 General Elections. Boundaries and data for proposed general and Māori electorates, and meshbock electoral populations, can be downloaded from Stats NZ’s Geographic Data Service Datafinder ( Electorate boundaries can be viewed and compared against other geographies using Stats NZ’s Geographic Boundary Viewer ( For more information on the boundary review or to view the proposed electorate names and boundaries, visit Boundary Review 2019/20 ( For more information on how the number of electorates and electoral populations are calculated, visit Number of electorates and electoral populations: 2018 Census (

No Comments