The Daily Commute: An Analysis of the Geography of the Labour Market using 2006 Census Data


  • Martin Ralphs Statistics New Zealand
  • Rosemary Goodyear Statistics New Zealand



This paper explores the major commuting areas within New Zealand and how commuting patterns have evolved between 1996 and 2006. It focuses primarily on the new insights that mapping and visualisation methods can bring to the analysis and understanding of complex flow data. In particular, we discuss some approaches to delineating labour market areas based on commuter inflow statistics and demonstrate the advantages that spider flow maps bring to the

visualisation and understanding of commuting flows between areas. Spider flow maps are based on origin-destination information from the 2006 Census, but the paper also includes an historical perspective, examining changes in, the number and proportion of people commuting between areas and using different modes of transport used for commuting.

Although our focus is on the advantages that these new methods can bring to the analysis of commuting data, some interesting findings arise. Both the number of commutes and the distance travelled by commuters has increased markedly since 1996, particularly around the largest cities of the Auckland. Wellington and Christchurch. Labour markets centered on these cities go well beyond territorial authority boundaries and. particularly in the Auckland case, are becoming increasingly polycentric. Data visucalisation makes the exploration of these patterns much more accessible.


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