BBC Questions New Zealand’s 100% Pure Image

Both Mike Joy and the NZ Green Party have questioned John Key’s position on  New Zealand’s 100% Pure branding.

Joy has challenged John Key to prove that New Zealand is 100% Pure.


New Zealand’s economically valuable “100% Pure” brand has been questioned in international media due to the pollution of our rivers and lakes, the Green Party said today.

We must get real about cleaning up our rivers and lakes, because the world is beginning to realise that we aren’t living up to our clean green image,” said Dr Norman.

Dr Norman was responding to John Key’s interview yesterday on BBC News HARDtalk. During the interview (see video above) host Stephen Sackur commented that New Zealand is clearly not 100% Pure and cited that half of New Zealand lakes and 90% of our lowland rivers are classed as polluted.

The clean green New Zealand brand is worth $18.4 billion, but this asset is at risk unless we take immediate action to restore our waterways.

“To be effective in the long-term, our brand must reflect reality,” said Dr Norman.

 “Yesterday, John Key admitted on BBC News that intensifying our dairying has impacted on our river quality, the same day his Government released a toothless version of the National Policy Statement on Freshwater (NPS). (ed. link here)

The draft NPS required land owners to obtain a resource consent for land use intensification, but the Government bowed to polluter pressure and removed this requirement in the final version released yesterday.

“Nearly every report on water quality in New Zealand has identified land use intensification as the main cause of water quality decline in New Zealand, yet the Government has chosen not to regulate intensification.

“This decision will come back to haunt us. If we trash the environment we will trash our reputation and it will damage us economically sooner or later,” said Dr Norman.

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6 thoughts on “BBC Questions New Zealand’s 100% Pure Image

  1. Joy says he doesn’t feel the BBC interview has had any real effect on the debate within New Zealand. “It just highlighted the point that we’re delusional and that the Prime Minister is also under this illusion.”
    Norman says the problem rests with the Prime Minister’s refusal to address the issue. “If he had of acknowledged the problem, we could have cut him some slack.”

  2. Thanks Moonlight, this will be added to our Green Credentials, or Green Wash? page.

    We already know that drums of toxic chemicals were discovered recently 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

  3. A new blow to the “green” BS of NZ:

    Environment Canterbury (ECan) is investigating claims that drums filled with toxic chemicals are buried underneath Opuha Dam’s lake, near Fairlie. It was alleged some of the drums contained 245T, a dioxin-contaminated herbicide used to make Agent Orange.

    It seems these drums were dumped in 1994, and the practice of dumping chemicals was widespread at the time, just some 15 years ago!

    And then:

    New Zealand was one of the last countries in the world producing 245T when it was banned in 1987, and this country’s farmers were among the world’s biggest users.

    How is that for clean and green??????????

    • It’s only clean and green until you discover the truth and then collude in keeping that truth hidden.
      Because speaking out means you are “being petty”, “thinking too much about something inconsequential”, “it is not your place to speak since you are merely a guest”, “other countries are much worse” and “go back home if you don’t like it”.

  4. Nation branding may be more than a marketing ploy. It may also a noxious extension of the “affirmations”/positive thinking movement. I seem to remember some discussions on that, on an expat board, that the Kiwis have embraced this notion to the extent of transmuting the English stiff upper lip attitude into the very different attitude of thinking positively in order to make positivity happen. Akin to Cargo Cult. And of course, shun negativity and nothing bad will happen. She’ll Be Right. The foolishness of the trendy New Age pop psych “you are what you think” approach is obvious to migrants like us who have seen it “not work” in our own countries, but remember, they are 20 years behind the times in New Zealand.

    Old but may be worth reading:
    Debrett, M 2004, ‘Branding documentary: New Zealand’s minimalist solution to cultural subsidy’. Media Culture & Society 26 (1) 5-23.

    In the study Creativity Inc.: Globalizing the Cultural Imaginary
    in New Zealand by Jennifer Lawn

    snip –
    Corballis pursues as an example the incorporation of the term “creativity” into neoliberal discourse, where it is “increasingly articulated with ideas of individualism, risk and ambition” and with “optimistic national slogans (‘New Zealand is a great place full of creative people’ etc.), reminding me of nothing so much as the desperate, repeated ‘affirmations’ (‘I am a great person and I deserve love’ etc.)of the chronic anxiety-sufferer” (62) – end snip

    Confronted with challenges to New Zealand’s projected marketed image, Key of course finds himself in a dilemma. He may be well aware that he has “inherited” a Green National Brand Image that may need changing to reflect reality, but he will receive no support from the media for doing so. They’re a howling pack. The problem is that the brand image has attracted so much money to their coffers that they cannot just quit it cold turkey. He’s in the hot seat! From 100% Pure to 100% You is like trying to segue out of the cocaine habit by leaning on boutique coffee for awhile.

    The brand imagers must be working overtime, in this economic climate, to come up with something that will work as well as Pure did. What possible quality could lead tourists and migrants, in a recession, to drop a wad of money on New Zealand, either by visiting or moving there to invest?

    I predict they will start capitalising on the “haven” angle, despite the fact that there is much information available now on the Internet demonstrating that it is not actually the “safe” society it bills itself as, unless you are a hippie from the U.S. with uninsurable health problems fleeing a militarised society, and consider that as your definition of a safe society, or a lumpenproletariat Brit fleeing Islamicisation of the UK. Those two sorts of migrants seem to be very happy to ignore New Zealand’s problems and keep soldiering on here.

    New Zealand – a place for rich people to bring their money and stash it safely?
    (Channel Islands of the Pacific) The drawback to that is that rich people are smart enough not to let the Kiwis get their hands on it.

    New Zealand – a Bolt Hole amidst Global Chaos? (campaign poster – a million people hiding beneath millions of sheep in a vast field). Ideas?

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