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World Map Without New Zealand | © Pixabay
World Map Without New Zealand | © Pixabay

New Zealand Keeps Being Left off World Maps – and Here's Why

Picture of Thalita Alves
Updated: 29 January 2018

Where in the world is New Zealand? That question might be a no-brainer for a wanderlusting traveller plotting out their bucket list – but it appears mapmakers from all corners of the globe aren’t finding the Antipodean country quite as memorable.

Play a game of Risk and you won’t find any trace of New Zealand. Watch a popular TV series like Star Trek and, yep, there’s another map without it. Video games, t-shirt designs, wall decor, Christmas cards, in-flight magazines and even institutions that should have known better (we’re looking at you, United Nations) occasionally forget about that little country in the corner of the Pacific.

Risk board game map | © Orthuberra/Wikimedia Commons

And naturally, New Zealanders aren’t all that happy about it.

This woeful omission inspired a community of sharp-eyed, social-media-savvy Kiwis to document what seems like an endless existential battle. In recent years, the subreddit MapsWithoutNZ and the Tumblr World Maps Without New Zealand have made it their mission to remind the world that, hey, this country still exists. More than 28,000 Redditors are subscribed to MapsWithoutNZ, which is updated on a daily basis.

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United Nations logo | © Harshil Shah/Flickr

But why does this innocent nation keep on getting the geographical cold shoulder?

Some, like the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, default to the classic excuse that they simply ‘ran out of room’. Others will say that the country accidentally got swallowed by some pesky clouds. And, to be fair, you can’t really expect a show like The Simpsons to be preoccupied with the intricate details of cartography.

Ask a handful of people on the street to look at a map without New Zealand, as the BBC recently did, and you might get a mixed reaction – some will be quick to spot the missing piece of the puzzle, while others will simply overlook it because ‘it’s so tiny, nobody notices.’

Despite their dismay at being ignored time and again, New Zealanders remain in good spirits about the whole ordeal. In fact, even the country’s government is in on the joke – its 404 Error page pays a fitting tribute to the country’s continuous battle for recognition.

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Satellite image of New Zealand | © NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Flickr