Centre of the Extended Continental Shelf of New Zealand, 2012 Installed April 2019

Billy Apple has at last been able to install a large art work on a ridge in the Tararua Mountain Ranges after three years of delays due to the weather. The engraved 1000mm2 circular stainless-steel plaque was successfully helicoptered onto the site and took six hours to install by Drs Cornel de Ronde and Jenny Black with Department of Conservation staff. Like a survey-pin, the art work marks the centre of the Extended Continental Shelf of New Zealand.


Over a period of ten years a team of NZ scientists have mapped the edge (defined as where the continent meets the sea floor) of New Zealand’s vast underwater continent.  They revealed that New Zealand makes up 5% of the continental land above sea level while 95% lies beneath. In 2008 the United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS) ratified this new continental boundary to make it the world’s fifth largest landmass adding an area the size of Alaska to New Zealand’s territory.


Apple was invited by Dr de Ronde to add a cultural component to the project. He asked the question “Where is the centre?” It took two months of scientific discussions to determine how to calculate an answer to this seemingly simple question, which is complicated by both the vastness of the territory as well as the curvature of the earth. Much to everybody’s surprise the centre point turned out to be on dry land in the Tararua Forest Park north of the capital, Wellington.


GNS Science Media Release:

Short Youtube video about the project:

July 29, 2019