We Are Here

An atlas of Aotearoa

Chris McDowall and Tim Denee

book cover for We Are Here
Title Info Sheet

Hard cover


An extraordinary visual data book like no other



Clustered yet scattered, we New Zealanders live across the country’s physical landscapes, experiencing its varied weather and environments. We co-create its political, economic and social systems on a daily basis. Each of us has a particular view of Aotearoa, yet nobody comprehends the whole.

This book’s sets of maps and graphics help New Zealanders make sense of their country, to grasp the scale, diversity and intricacies of Aotearoa, and to experience feelings of connection to land, to place, to this time in our history, and to one another.

By making data visible, each graphic reveals insights about Aotearoa. They answer a range of questions: Who visits us? How equal are we? How were these lands formed? Where do we live and work? How do we hurt ourselves? Where do our cats go to at night? This compelling mixture of charts, graphs, diagrams, maps and illustrations is functional, beautiful, insightful and enlightening. It tells us where we are, here, in 2019. Essays by some of New Zealand’s best thinkers complete the package.

To look inside, click here.

To watch a short introduction to the book, click here.

To watch Chris McDowalls presentation on the book at the 2019 National Digital Forum, click here.


‘If the visualisation of data can be counted as an expression of science, then this is a book to be treasured. It shows New Zealand in ways that need no words to leave a deep impact – such as the pages covered in hundreds of thousands of data dots, with each dot representing a child growing up in poverty.’ — New Zealand Listener

‘Data as poetry, as art, as cartography. A revelation. Buy it for everyone for Christmas.’ — Unity Books bestseller chart

‘Honestly this is spectacular. By rights it will become as ubiquitous as that big blue Union-Jacked Reed New Zealand Atlas was when we were kids.’ — The Spinoff

‘What Chris McDowall and Tim Denee have made is a smashed-it-out-of-the-park heroically monumental work of data visualisation art. We Are Here deserves to become a much-loved dog-eared reference, and not just among data nerds like me, but in homes, schools, libraries, businesses, and government offices.’ — Aaron Schiff, The Spinoff

‘The book as a whole, thanks to designer Denee, is a masterful visualisation of McDowall’s data. I’m pretty comfortable calling the book a work of art that ultimately falls within a tradition of conceptual documentary art from Billy Apple to Ruth Watson.’ — Andrew Paul Wood, EyeContact

‘There is an honesty and a passion in this work. It tells some powerful stories about Aotearoa – some are very thought provoking, others make uncomfortable reading. But “our past has happened and we can learn from it,” says Lillian Grace in the Afterword, “but the future – well that’s in our hands and hearts: we are here.” This atlas must surely make a significant contribution to the spreading of such a sentiment.’ —Mary Spence MBE, former president of the British Cartographic Society

  • CATEGORY: Contemporary issues, History, Natural history and environment
  • ISBN: 9780994141538
  • PUBLISHER: Massey University Press
  • IMPRINT: Massey University Press
  • PUBLISHED: 03/10/2019
  • PAGE EXTENT: 240
  • FORMAT: Hard cover
Profile image for Chris McDowall

Dr Chris McDowall trained as a geographer with a focus on cartography and human geography.

Profile image for Tim Denee

Tim Denee is a Wellington-based designer who has worked across a range of disciplines.