At the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit, New Zealand’s prime minister John Key took photos with the most powerful leaders around the globe…in front of a world map on which New Zealand didn’t even exist.
“Well, they wronged us, but I’m sure it will be alright,” he said at the time.
Indeed, Key is probably used to the treatment by now. Because apparently, New Zealand is left off world maps all the time. In fact, there’s an entire Tumblr blog, World Maps Without New Zealand, dedicated to tracking the phenomenon. It happens so regularly, it could have provided a whole season arc to Flight of the Conchords. From Risk boards, to infographics, to the world map in front of Geneva’s United Nations office, New Zealand is frequently missing, as if the world ends at Australia and starts again somewhere around Alaska. The island-country has disappeared somewhere in the expanse of the southwest Pacific.
But while we certainly won’t justify the act of erasing a country with over 4 million people, we can understand how an overzealous graphic designer, working against a deadline, counts seven continents and shaves off the islands for visual clarity. In the instance of the United Nations building, that map is quite small and rendered in metal. Including New Zealand wouldn’t have been a minor matter, and its very presence may have elevated New Zealand’s stature to a continent-like level (though Africa’s island country of Madagascar does appear on this map, and frequently seems appear on maps even when New Zealand doesn’t).
What can we say, New Zealand? We’re sorry. And if you were in the game of Risk, the world would be a better place. Because maybe there would be a decent strategy for invading Australia.