The 100% Pure New Zealand slogan must have seemed a good idea at the time. And its longevity suggests it is successfully attracting tourists to New Zealand.
But those words are increasingly being rolled up into sticks, with which to beat perceived threats to New Zealand’s environment.
John Key was asked about it during his live chat on Stuff the other day.
Question: Given the recent dirty dairying news do you still stand by your claim that NZ is 100% clean and green?
John Key: I’ve never said that statement. What I have supported is the marketing slogan used by Tourism NZ of 100% Pure.
Although he did say, in that BBC Hardtalk interview last year:
In comparison with the rest of the world, we are 100% pure.
The difficulty with that answer is the difficulty embedded in the slogan: it’s unequivocal. One hundred percent leaves no room for error.
And that makes it a useful tool for critics of projects big and small that are perceived to compromise the (environmental) purity.
The latest example comes from a blogger in Australia. The Naked Traveller (“the bare facts about travel”), aka Paul Hansford, whose blog appears on the News.com.au site, raises concerns about plans for Fiordland – his “favourite place in the world”.
There’s no high-speed internet connections, no mobile coverage, no over-priced coffee shops. Just nature. As NZ Tourism says, “100% Pure”. However, “100% Selling Out” might be a more accurate description if one of two tourism proposals are given the green light.
The proposals Hansford refers relate to options to reduce the travelling time between Queenstown and Milford Sound.
Both projects would look to build mass tourism infrastructure on protected conservation land. Riverstone Holdings want to build a 43km monorail from Kiwi Burn to Te Anau Downs, 29km of which would run through conservation land, while Milford Dart Ltd. propose to drill an 11.3km private tunnel through Mount Aspiring and Fiordland National Parks …
Allowing a monorail or commercial tunnel to scar such one of NZ’s natural treasures is akin to building an abseiling wall on Stonehenge or, as one unhappy local put it, building a chairlift up to the top of Uluru. The impact on the local habitat, wildlife and residents would resonate for years, as the natural jewel in New Zealand’s crown is replaced by a cheap, commercially made imitation.
The campaign won national attention and is credited with creating the modern-day conservation movement in New Zealand. From an industry point of view, it will be interesting to see where Tourism New Zealand stand – or if they will just sit on the fence? With a well-established and popular campaign based on the “100% Pure” tagline, the commercialisation of World Heritage lands to line the pockets of private tour companies will not sit well with prospective tourists …
If we can’t see the value of conserving the natural beauty of a place such as Fiordland National Park over a few more tourism dollars, then something is seriously wrong. All of us – not just New Zealanders – need to make a stand: Don’t make “100% Pure” become a “100% Sell Out”.
The blog post follows a piece in the Australian Herald Sun last week headlined “New Zealand’s 100% pure brand under threat”, which appears to suggest that coverage has been driven by a local campaign opposing the proposals.