Hello HexMaps: a hexagonal cartogram of New Zealand electorates (2014-2017)

This is a cartogram of the current (2014-2017) New Zealand electorates, with one hexagon for each electorate. Electorates have roughly equal populations, so this is a reasonable map of population distribution. The North and South Islands should be obvious; the Māori electorates make up a second mini NZ in the bottom right.

Why are these maps more useful than a geographic map? In short, because they don’t overrepresent rural areas and underrepresent urban areas. Stephen Beban (NZ) and Pitch Interactive (USA) have more to say on the topic.

The colours here indicate the regional groupings, to help orient you to the distorted geography. Many electorates cross regional boundaries, so these are just a rough guide. Most notably, the Wellington region is split between several Māori electorates. (Credit for the regional groupings to Chris Knox in the Herald).

This hexagonal layout is due to Joseph Wright, and I used his shapefiles as a base.

Chris McDowall made a different hexagonal layout for the 2011 electorates, which I adapted in 2014. I think I like that better in terms of the geographic layout, but it is very skinny so it’s less compact for on-screen display.

Click through the storyboard and see different data from the election visualised in hexmaps…

Electorate Winners: Who won the seats?

Each hexagon is coloured for the party of the winning candidate. The strength of colour tracks the percentage of votes the winner received — from 38.3% for the National Party in Northland to 71.6% for the Labour Party in Hauraki-Waikato.

Party Votes: How are each party’s voters distributed? Do they have broad or localised support?

Choose a party and see the tiles shaded relative to the number of voters. There are five shades: within 5% of the average, between 5-20% over (or under) average, and more than 20% over (or under) the average. The mouseover compares the 2017 and 2014 percentages.

Note that because it’s based on absolute numbers rather than percentages, the Māori electorates may be unexpectedly lighter because of their lower turnouts.

National and Labour have fairly complementary patterns, as do NZ First and the Greens.

Coalition votes: Which electorates were “won” by the incumbent government?

The incumbant government is a four-party coalition between National (47.0% in 2014), Māori (1.3%), ACT (0.7%) and United Future (0.2%). Some have argued that the election was a referendum on the government and that the majority voted against it.

Though I’m no fan of pie charts in general, I think they’re reasonable here to show the proportion of votes for and against coalition parties, with the latter arguably in favour of some sort of change.

The coalition received a majority in just 25 of 71 electorates, down from 36 in 2014.

They increased their vote in 6 electorates, but none by more than 4% (the 2014 national vote for the collapsed Conservative party). The decreases ranged up to 7.5% (in Wellington Central).

Tiny Party Votes: Are the sub 0.5% parties evenly ignored, or do they have localised support?

More people cast an “informal” vote than voted for any of these parties.

MANA unsurprisingly have most of their support in the Māori seats. I’m seriously wondering if they got some votes in the Mana electorate from people assuming they had a local focus.

The rest of the distributions are pretty much what I expected, though when a party doesn’t break 100 votes in any electorate (as is the case with the bottom four) it’s easy to overinterpret the noise.

The biggest surprise to me was that every party got at least 1 vote in every electorate.