The Wrong Side of my Car

A blog about Auckland City, its streets, and culture shock

3 Nov 2019

Census 2018: population density

Last year (2018) there was a census, and after a long and turbulent process, the data is now gradually being released to the public.

One of the data tables already available is about population by Statistical Area 2 (formerly known as Area Units). In general over here these are areas of about a kilometre across, with a few thousands of people living in them.

The estimated population was given for the previous census years as well (2006 and 2013) so of course we are going to make a GIF. *1

Density in 2006, 2013 and 2018

We can also show the change from 2013 to 2018 directly:

A few things I noticed:

There is always a compromise between avoiding too large thresholds, and still being able to match colors with the legend.

As an alternative for just using a lot of colors, I tried with just 3 colors, and mixing them using halftone patterns. These 3 colors (solid for 0, 1000 and 5000) are easy to recognise. In between we can vary the pattern continuously to avoid large thresholds.

Update: since the meshblock data set is out, we can repeat this exercise per meshblock:

Density per meshblock in 2006, 2013 and 2018

You can see a few details here, for example the area around the proposed tram *3 line on Dominion Road doesn’t have the dense settlements like the ones around Sandringham Road or Manukau Road. Or you can see Hobsonville Point pop up in 2018.


Back when GeoCities was still a thing, everyone loved GIFs. Here you’re actually looking at a WEBP file, Google’s successor to GIF. But everyone is still using the word ‘GIF’ to refer to short and silent animations.


For a while there was this obnoxious trend to call malls and commercial areas ‘parks’. What a bald-faced lie. Don’t expect a leisurely stroll over there.


OK, Light Rail line, in case you don’t want to speak that lowly plain English of Lay People.

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