Frequently Asked Questions

What is Mashblock?

Mashblock is a mashup site built to visualise open-data for geographic areas in New Zealand. This site was initially build as an entry for the Mix & Mash mashup competition, but is continuing to be developed and extended.

What are Meshblocks and Area Units?

These are geographic areas commonly used for presenting and displaying data in New Zealand.

The definition of a Meshblock is:
"A meshblock is the smallest geographic unit for which statistical data is collected by Statistics New Zealand. Meshblocks vary in size from part of a city block to large areas of rural land. Each meshblock abuts another to cover all of New Zealand, extending out to the 200-mile economic zone (approximately 320 kilometres). Meshblocks aggregate to build larger geographic areas, such as area units, territorial authorities, and regional councils." [Statistics New Zealand]

The definition of an Area Unit is:
"Area units are aggregations of meshblocks. They are non-administrative areas that are in between meshblocks and territorial authorities in size. Area units must either define or aggregate to define: regional councils; territorial authorities; urban areas; and statistical areas."
"Each area unit must be a single geographic entity with a unique name referring to a geographical feature. Area units of main or secondary urban areas generally coincide with suburbs or parts thereof."
"Area units within urban areas normally contain a population of 3,000 - 5,000, though this can vary due to such things as industrial areas, port areas, and rural areas within the urban area boundaries. In rural areas, the straddling of some territorial authorities over regional boundaries has resulted in a number of area units having only two or three meshblocks and a very low population count."
[Statistics New Zealand]

Where is all the data from?

Currently all the data is from the 2006 Census of Population and Dwellings supplied by Statistics New Zealand. All the GIS boundaries are also sourced from Statistics New Zealand.

In the near future Mashblock will hopefully be bringing in more sources of Open Government data from multiple government departments.

Sometimes the maps are covered with the message "Data is still loading. Drag or Zoom to refresh", what's up with that?

This sometimes happens when Google's cloud services are still rendering the tiles for the Boundaries. Changing the zoom levels or refreshing the page should fix this, but they are not always guaranteed to show up.

The site looks funny on Internet Explorer, why's that?

Essentially this site has been built and optimised for modern browsers like Google Chrome, Apple Safari and Mozilla Firefox. The site should still work on IE7 and above, but you will definately have a more awesome time on this site with one of the other modern browsers.

What's in the pipeline for Mashblock?

  • Heaps more data.
  • Ability to compare the data of different areas.
  • Data on maps!
  • Once available, the 2011 census data.

Who can I contact regarding Mashblock?

The site is built and maintained by Cameron Prebble, you can email me or contact me via Twitter.

How can I support Mashblock?

If you would like to support Mashblock by making a donation, it can be through our Pledgie Campaign, or through Flattr. All donations will go towards the hosting costs of the site.

Click here to lend your support to: Mashblock and make a donation at !
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