This dataset is the definitive set of ward boundaries for 2021 as defined by the territorial authorities and/or Local Government Commission, but maintained by Stats NZ (the custodian). This clipped version has been created for map creation/cartographic purposes and so does not fully represent the official full extent boundaries.
Wards were originally set up within any territorial authority with a population of at least 20,000. Wards are defined under the Local Electoral Act 2001 and result from dividing a territorial authority for electoral purposes. The ward system was designed to allow for the recognition of communities within a territorial authority and to increase community involvement in the local government system.
Territorial authorities can now choose whether they would like to maintain electoral wards. As a result, the number of wards has steadily decreased since they were first created in 1989. Ward boundaries are reviewed in the year before the three-yearly local government elections.
The following table lists the total number of wards by year:
Wards are numbered based on their corresponding territorial authority. Each ward has a unique five-digit number. The first three digits represent the territorial authority that the ward lies within. The following two digits are sequential and represent the number of wards within a territorial authority. For example, Westland District (057) has three wards, which are coded 05701, 05702, and 05703.
Several territorial authorities do not use wards. In the data, these territorial authorities use “99” at the end of the ward code, and the descriptor “Area Outside Ward”. In 2021, the following territorial authorities do not use wards:
Territorial authority name
Palmerston North City
Upper Hutt City
Chatham Islands Territory
Ward boundaries are defined at meshblock level.
Digital boundary data became freely available on 1 July 2007.
Wards are based on the meshblock pattern. Non-alignment of meshblock and cadastral boundaries are one of a number of reasons for meshblock boundary adjustments. Other reasons include requests from local authorities, Local Government Commission, Electoral Representation Commission and to make census enumeration processes easier. From the meshblock pattern, higher geographies, including the 2021 ward pattern, were dissolved using the dissolve tool in the Arc GIS suite. To derive the ward boundaries clipped to the coastline, meshblock polygons were dissolved to exclude meshblocks with a land/water attribute of Inlet or Oceanic.
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