A Meshblock is defined as both a geographic unit and a classification. A Meshblock is the smallest geographic unit for which statistical data is reported by Stats NZ. It is a defined geographic area, varying in size from part of a city block to large areas of rural land. Meshblocks are contiguous, which means that each Meshblock borders another to form a network covering the whole of New Zealand (which includes coasts and inlets). The Meshblock classification extends out to New Zealand’s 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Primary purposes of a Meshblock classification are:
- to provide a small, relevant, and flexible building block geography for aggregation into statistical geographies such as sampling, collection, and output areas (NZ Census, for example)
- to ensure geographic boundaries can be physically identified and located on the ground by alignment with geographic or physical features, or with the cadastre (New Zealand’s land information and survey system for the accurate identification of boundaries for land tenure purposes)
- to form the basis of the New Zealand electoral system as the lowest level building block, by which it defines electorates and polling areas for both parliamentary and local government elections.
Multiple Meshblocks are formed together, which define a Layers Area Unit, which is akin to what might be (but is not) considered a suburb.