Billie McGuinness & Becky Jenkins
Nation Dates (Fourth Edition)

  • 2020

    Submission # 215

  • Output

    Publication – Pukapuka

  • Kaupapa

    Identity – Place

    Identity – People & Culture

  • Location

    Wellington, Te Whanga-nui-a-Tara

Project Overview:
The fourth edition of 'Nation Dates: Timelines of significant events that have shaped the history of Aotearoa New Zealand', was an in-house production by the Wellington-based McGuinness Institute. The Institute is a non-partisan think tank working towards a sustainable future for New Zealand. They apply hindsight, insight and foresight to explore major challenges and opportunities facing New Zealand over the long term. The first edition of Nation Dates was published in 2011.

Nation Dates presents timelines of significant events that have shaped Aotearoa New Zealand as a nation. Three years on from the third edition, the fourth edition called for four new timelines: Political Agreements, New Zealand Wars, Government Net Worth and COVID-19 and over 70 new historic events.

As one of the Institute's distinctive publications, Nation Dates required an updated design that still retained the identity of "the orange book". The key goal was to improve usability and navigation for readers. With the announcement that from 2022 onwards, Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories will be taught in all schools and kura, it was important that Nation Dates could easily be picked up and browsed as a resource for learning.

More than just a record of the past, Nation Dates provides invaluable context for the future at a time when society is facing major questions about the way forward. It is a book dedicated to all who are interested in shaping Aotearoa New Zealand's long-term future. Those who understand the past are better able to influence the present and, by doing so, enable future New Zealanders to build their interpretations of a robust, vibrant and just nation.

Timelines are used by futurists to understand both the context of a specific event and the narrative or pattern suggested by a group of events. For Aotearoa New Zealand in particular, the timelines in Nation Dates aim to illustrate our character as people, our vision for our country, and our likely trajectory as a nation. 'History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme' is a quote often attributed to Mark Twain (who visited New Zealand in 1895). Events often share commonalities. An event in isolation offers limited information, whereas a series of events can create patterns that provide new insights and knowledge. A deeper understanding of the patterns in New Zealand's history can help us appreciate and prepare for the opportunities ahead.

Nation Dates represents the values of Hindsight: Learn from the past, Insight: Be mindful of the present and Foresight: Engage in the future.

The response provides a clean, contemporary design throughout, with an emphasis on way-finding and inspiring exploration. The outcome positions Nation Dates as both a practical resource and a crafted artefact.

The cover design of Nation Dates draws from the concepts of topography and tree rings, natural and scientific methods of mapping - revealing gradual growth over time or the consequences of sudden shakes in our geography. These rings and ripples resonate with the events of New Zealand history, following previous patterns or creating disruption. The cover of Nation Dates folds out to display a timeline of dots, each one representing one of the 732 historical events found inside. This "constellation" of dates helps reveal the patterns and clusters that emerge over time in each of the nine domains.

The timeline required a systematic approach. Each date was grouped within one of nine domains: Civics and governance, Cultural identity, Environment, Health, Housing, Income and consumption, Jobs and earnings, Knowledge and skills, and Safety and security. To identify the domains, we designed and developed a set of icons which allow for quick recognition of the topic of each entry. These icons guide the reader visually, created with a simplistic, rounded vector style that is unobtrusive to the reader's experience. The highlighting of quotes and imagery on full page spreads expands upon key dates and figures, creating moments of pause for reflection.

Credits & Collaborators:
Design Director - Becky Jenkins
Designer - Becky Jenkins
Designer - Billie McGuinness
Illustrator - Billie McGuinness

01 Nation Dates Multiple Covers Landscape
02 Nation Dates Cover Landscape
03 Nation Dates Inside Cover Landscape
Archive Submission
05 Nation Dates Dates Page Bookmark Portrait
06 Nation Dates Image Spread Landscape
07 Nation Dates Quote Page Landscape

More by
Billie McGuinness & Becky Jenkins