Researchers discover the exact centre of New Zealand

Cornel de Ronde and Jenny Black with the new plaque in Wairarapa.
Cornel de Ronde and Jenny Black with the new plaque in Wairarapa. Photo credit: GNS Science

There's now a plaque in the Tararua Ranges that marks the exact centre of our beautiful country - if you count the entire Extended Continental Shelf, that is.

It's 11km northwest of the Wairarapa town of Greytown, and is a collaboration between conceptual artist Billy Apple, GNS Science (GNS), and the Department of Conservation (DoC).

The plaque is meant to remind Kiwis that New Zealand's territory extends many kilometres out onto the ocean floor.

In fact, 95 percent of Aotearoa is actually underwater - so it's quite remarkable that the centre of this area falls on the 5 percent that is above sea level.

Since 2008, the United Nations (UN) has recognised that New Zealand's sovereign territory includes the undersea continental shelf, as well as the land mass above the sea.

That added an extra 1.6 million kilometres squared of seafloor to the nation's exclusive economic zone.

The area covers approximately 6 million square kilometres: equal to 14 Californias, eight states of Texas - or 1 percent of the entire Earth's surface.

GNS Science marine geologist Cornel de Ronde says the plaque should help Kiwis understand their place in the world.

"It's a small but important reminder that our continental land mass does not end at the coastline, but extends out beyond the horizon, with about 95 percent of New Zealand's territory lying beneath the sea."

The stainless steel artwork sits beside the Mount Reeves Track, which runs close by the centre point.

GNS Science researcher Jenny Black carried out the calculations that identified the centre as being on DoC land in the Tararua Ranges.

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