Scientist sees the stars in New Zealand’s small towns so maps them
Data scientist was reminded of looking up at the stars when looking down from a plane
Gazing at the faint lights of small New Zealand towns from an aeroplane, data scientist Aaron Schiff was inspired to map them to educate himself and others.
As an Aucklander Schiff had spent most of his life in cities and readily admits he didn’t know much about the geography of the country outside the largest urban centres before undertaking the project.
Using data sets from Statistics New Zealand’s 2017 digital boundaries and Land Information New Zealand’s primary parcels he was able to bring his vision to life, and learn a little about some of New Zealand’s tiny towns.
Small Towns of Aotearoa was the result, he said.
It took him about a week of work in January to complete the project.
He got the idea while gazing out the window of an aeroplane while travelling between Auckland and Wellington at night.
The lights below reminded him of the star constellations above.
As a child, Schiff used to gaze at the luminous lights in the sky with his father.
“My dad was an amateur astronomer.
“He always used to take me out to look at things through the telescope, that’s partly what inspired me to make it black and white.”
The data showed an approximate visualisation of 96 small towns that were less than 25 square kilometres in size.
A visualisation of Hokitika on the South Islands West Coast, was centralised near the Tasman sea and followed up the Hokitika River looking like a stingray or a kite gliding through the air.
Martinborough, in the Wellington region showed a square consistency, resembling a computer graphics card.
But Schiff’s favourite was a cul de sac in Te Aroha, in Waikato, which resembled a Koru.
See all of Schiff’s maps here.