BBC Hardtalk Roasts Key On 100% Pure Image – Update: Video

BBC Hardtalk’s Stephen Sackur roasted John Key over New Zealand’s 100% Pure brand image in a recent televised interview.

Most of us know that NZ 100% Pure is only an advertising slogan and that it has been dropped from the country’s marketing in favour of the 100% Pure You brand, but it is interesting nevertheless to watch the PM putting on his Minister of Tourism Hat and trying to defend the indefensible and outdated, much to Sackur’s amusement.

Watch an excerpt from the interview on the BBC’s website here and read what Kiwis think about it on Google groups and on Trademe

Update: The full interview has been posted on YouTube by aidanleenz.

Sackur called Key “the most inexperienced PM in New Zealand’s history ” who’d “never run a city let alone a ministerial department”

and asked why Key was telling the country’s young people to stay and make New Zealand great when he himself made his fortune working in London.

On Chinese investment in dairy farms, the relationship with the USA, Anti-nuclear status, Wikileaks, colonial history, the future of the Monarchy, Royal wedding  etc:

There is an absolute wealth of data demonstrating that New Zealand is not 100% Pure.  Key’s attempt to dismiss data as the ‘opinion’ of one highly regarded NZ academic, Mike Joy, comes across as avoiding  the issue for the sake of the cameras, instead of seizing the opportunity to admit there is a problem that his government is taking very seriously.

Update:  John Key was then roasted in Parliament over the interview, when he admitted he “couldn’t remember” what he said on BBC Hardtalk because he hadn’t watched it yet and that “one needs to balance the environment with the economy“.

But if NZ is 100% Pure doesn’t that mean the environment has to take priority 100%?

“NZ 50/50 Pure as long as the economy doesn’t suffer and the farmers are happy” doesn’t have the same nation branding advertising pull does it.

Key has come a long way since his “loosest slot machines in the Pacific Rim” stumbles but still has some way to go. Watch the Parliamentary roasting here. You may also like to read Pure Nonsense, by Brian Turner in the May 2010 NZ Listener magazine, excerpt:

New Zealand is definitely clean and green. Yeah, right.

“I wonder how many of us are sick of the extent to which New Zealanders delude themselves, and are willing to believe many of the most outrageous lies they are told. Like, for instance, this is a “clean and green” country, a place that is “pure” and often “pristine”…”

Back to the Hardtalk interview. Sackur quotes Mike Joy as saying

“We are delusional about how clean and green we are”

And you can see how he arrives at that conclusion.

For data about NZ’s pollution, its use of a wide range of pesticides and herbicides, and the country’s planned exploitation of fossil fuels please visit our Greenwash NZ page, here’s the first section from it.

Greenwash NZ

New Zealand’s ‘Green’ Credentials aren’t quite as good as they should be for a country with such a low population, much of NZ’s green reputation is little more than greenwashing used to sell produce and tourism.

In April 2011 a copy of the government’s draft energy strategy: Developing Our Energy Potential was released ‘mistakenly’ into the public domain. It quickly became evident that the present National government was placing far too much emphasis on the mining of fossil fuels in New Zealand.

The Green Party called the strategy which promoted coal and oil exploration, 19th century and said it put ‘petroleum and mineral fuel reserves (essentially oil, gas and coal) ahead of investing in renewable power sources and new technologies.

“…This strategy demonstrates how backwards-looking this Government is on energy. They clearly do not have a logical, coherent plan,” said Greens energy spokesman Kennedy Graham.

“On one of the first pages of the document, the strategy acknowledges that oil prices and the cost of greenhouse gases will rise. But instead of developing a plan to reduce our reliance on these unsustainable energy sources, it goes on to prioritise fossil fuels like offshore oil drilling and lignite – the dirtiest coal.

“It’s a short-sighted economic strategy that will ultimately impoverish New Zealand, and will undermine international efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

“New Zealand’s prosperity in the future will depend on investment in clean, green technology and sustainable jobs, not opening our shores to foreign companies to exploit a 19th century resource.”…” read more, including what the public think about the report

NZ government recently caved in to the oil industry by allowing seismic testing for oil in the Raukumara Basin. since then there have been vigorous protests by environmental groups within New Zealand, none of which have been effective in halting the exploration which has the support of the NZ government.

In August 2010 Radio NZ obtained reports under the Official Information Act that showed

“Petrobras … was awarded an exploration permit two months ago off the East Coast without any environmental scrutiny.According to the documents released, the decision was made on technical and economic grounds, and required the company only to show it would use good oilfield practices.” source

Mass penguin deaths on the beaches on the east coast of New Zealand have been attributed to Petrobras’ oil exploration work in the Basin. International research suggests that seismic testing is responsible for killing a range of sea creatures.

This month a Chinese backed, Australian mining company, Goldmining NL, revealed it had plans to explore for oil in the seabed off the Abel Tasman National Park, across much of Golden Bay and the NW point of the South Island. It is proposing drilling the seabed for oil and gas, as well as prospecting for coal in Golden Bay and developing Port Tarakohe. (source)


The air at more than half of all the air sampling sheds in New Zealand fails quality tests, with much of the pollution caused by residential wood smoke during winter, even with proposed improvements 45% of the population will still be exposed to higher than acceptable levels of PM10s.

One of New Zealand’s rivers – The Manawatu – is among the most polluted in the world and many beaches suffer pollution from stormwater and waste water overflows making them unsafe to swim on. (more below, including videos and citations)

Tonnes of toxic herbicides and pesticides are dropped from helicopters over thousands of hectares of countryside every year, including the highly controversial and dangerous poisons 1080 (see 1080 posts) and Brodifacoum (a rat poison similar to warfarin) – neither of them are intended to be distributed from the air, they are supposed to be laid in covered bait stations. Weed killer  is also sprayed from helicopters over wide swathes of countryside in an effort to eradicate non-native plants such as gorse. Tourists, workers, farm animals, native fauna and pets have all been exposed to these toxins – sometimes with fatal consequences.

A new class of insecticides called  neonicotinoids are widely used in New Zealand. They are thought to be contributing to the rapid decrease in the honey bee population.  By 2008 the Environmental Risk Management Agency had licensed 23 neonicotinoid-based products, despite mounting evidence of the harm the neurotoxin was having on bees.

By May 2011 an alarming “bee colony collapse” had been observed over a six month period in New Zealand. In some places 30% of the population has disappeared. But despite some classes of neonicotinoid being banned in Italy, Germany and France there are no plans to curb its use in New Zealand. Because of the important role bees play in the pollination of crops Albert Einstein speculated that “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years of life left.”

Hundreds of hectares of land are polluted with toxic chemicals left behind after years of intensive fruit growing, chemical use and/or manufacture (Agent Orange, wood preservatives, heavy metals etc) Over time, as the use of orchards declined, the land was often sold on for residential housing development. Many homeowners are unaware that their houses are built on contaminated land. Councils are very reluctant to release information as it will have a negative impact on land values and there could be massive bills for remediation work and difficulties in disposing of the contaminated soils.

Drums of toxic chemicals were recently discovered beneath a children’s playground in Marfell, the site of New Plymouth’s former city refuse dump. The chemicals were tetrachlorobenzene and trichlorophenol, both used in the manufacture of herbicides.

Ivon Watkins Dow (now named Dow Agro Sciences)manufactured herbicides ’24D’ and ’245T’, used in equal part in the manufacture of the defoliant Agent Orange, at its Paritutu plant for use in the Vietman war. The dioxin contaminant TCDD within ’245T’ is considered to be highly toxic to humans. Exposure to dioxins is alleged to have resulted in an estimated 10% increase in cancer deaths in the New Plymouth area.

Over a 30 year time span 20 million litres of the 2 herbicides were sprayed in New Zealand to control gorse and other weeds. The NZ government was said to have subsidised the use of the herbicides and 245T was both produced and used in NZ long after other countries had banned them. Production in the USA ceased in 1979 but continued in New Plymouth until 1987

Sustainable Development

An example of joined up thinking with regards to sustainable development in New Zealand can be seen is the construction of a new school in the Remarkables, Queenstown.

It is the first new state primary school to have opened in the lower South Island since the 1970s cost $17.3 million to build but it was refused a grant to install an energy efficient, sustainable energy system. The school is now reliant on electricity and paying more than $10,000 a month with an estimated spend of $75,000 for the full year. The education ministry doesn’t fund electricity bills of that size and the shortfall must come from the school’s operating budget, or community fund raising.

Will sustainable development be a key factor in the rebuilding of Christchurch? we will be watching…

9 thoughts on “BBC Hardtalk Roasts Key On 100% Pure Image – Update: Video

    outtakes –

    – NZ water use grew by around 50 per cent between 1999 and 2006
    – NZ agriculture industry uses 70 percent of our available freshwater for irrigation, rendering it unusable for drinking as a result of contamination
    – New Zealand doesn’t have a dedicated fresh water regulatory body, it is left up to individual councils to manage fresh water issues.
    – out of 51 native fish species, over two-thirds were classified as either at risk or under threat.

  2. A typo… North Island should be changed to South Island in the last paragraph as the last time I checked, Queenstown was still in the South Island 🙂

  3. Anyone got a copy of the interview? Missed it on Sky this wk & being in NZ the BBC website won’t play it here…

  4. PRay – aren’t you anxious to see how much restraint the Kiwis manage to use in their fleecing during the RWC. So many cashed-up tourists, so little time! Who cares about the Rugby. It’s the Kiwi Hoover vs the Tourists with Cash Wads game we’re watching, lol. Can the Kiwis hoover and escape without evoking screams of gouging by the international press? Will they deal with the “back to poverty as usual” flop once the Cup is over with its short-term plasma?

    • It’s easy to indoctrinate people who believe that everything Government says is gospel (and the protests are ineffectual, actually – if they want real change they should vote more carefully, remembering that their last 2 elections didn’t give them a better run). And what they will do is get hordes of “just-out-of-university” volunteers (students doing anything to get a reference on their CV) to sell a lot of ideas about what NZ is (neglecting to mention that those conditions are when things are “at their best”), and then berate the visitors for their expectations.
      I don’t expect any restraint, actually. But I do expect a greater amount of censorship during that period…

  5. By speaking out against this false image you are endangering the livelihood of many shysters running eco-sanctuaries… they can run relational aggression against a person, but not a website – and the truth is uncomfortable to bear because they made living off of a lie so profitable, that they probably cannot return to the standards that they ask immigrants to adapt to, while they overcharge and fleece any one they can with their lies, ignoring valid questions and painting out an “agenda” to destroy them… when it’s simple truth that – people don’t want to be lied to and overcharged…

  6. Key responded that he “did not shear that view”. Clearly, he likes his views voluminously woolly!

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