Aotearoa New Zealand in 2020

by Drew Broadley

Regions of Aotearoa New Zealand, and their population mobility and card spend activity across 2020.

2020 was such a unique milestone in everyone’s lives, globally. It’s something you can share stories about with anyone across the world. It created an environment for a human emotion rollercoaster ride. It also made for a year that was completely unlike anything we’ve experienced for generations.

Reflecting on times like this is what helps people process and build resilience.

Meanwhile, here in Aotearoa New Zealand, at Data Ventures we had a unique opportunity to see two key parts of everyone’s lives from a macro view in 2020. Throughout each day of 2020 we are able to see how many people are in an area and how much card spend happened in that area.

Being a very savvy country, we have quite an impressive uptake on use of mobile phones[1] and electronic card spend[2]. This means we can use patterns around the country to get a feel for people’s behaviours. We can see how they have changed over the year through various events (like lockdowns, public holidays, and the economic impact of COVID-19).

With the focus on COVID-19, the medical world, and especially on testing, it seemed appropriate we somehow bring these two datasets into a medical style. From this concept, we have produced a visualisation that best highlights the journey we all faced in 2020.

Each of the 16 regions of Aotearoa New Zealand has two horizontal lines. The top line shows the mobility of our population and the bottom shows card spend activity across each of the 366 days of 2020. Orange means high, blue means low.

Highlights in the visualisation are the obvious lockdown that happened in New Zealand when responding to COVID-19, which you can clearly see with the large section of blue, and the second lockdown of the Auckland region after.

We often find ourselves staring at this poster on the wall and reflecting on what a year we had — both as a team responding to the data needs for our government’s response to COVID-19, and also our own wellbeing and what we each went through.

This is a great reminder of how last year went. And it’s a tribute to how lucky we are today to be in a position where we can still move across our amazing country so freely.


  1. Commerce Commission Study 2019 —
  2. Reserve Bank Study 2019 —



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