Dylan Thorne

Dylan is the deputy editor of the Bay of Plenty Times.

Editorial: Pure brand is pure fantasy

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It was only a matter of time before someone, somewhere began to question the clean green image used to market this country overseas.

Images of snow-capped mountains, clean rivers and pristine countryside look good to prospective visitors but I have long doubted the "clean green" claim - and with good reason.

The poor state of our waterways is embarrassing and now the New York Times has highlighted the issue in an article, labelling the 100 per cent Pure brand pure fantasy.

The paper is read by millions of people each day and the article is predicted to be a damaging blow to the tourism sector.

The tourism organisation's latest $10 million campaign "100 per cent Middle-earth, 100 per cent Pure New Zealand" was launched overseas in August to leverage off Sir Peter Jackson's movie The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

The campaign portrays New Zealand as the real Middle-earth by using scenic imagery of green fields and people catching fish and accompanied with a voice-over talking about "a place that will forever keep you under its spell".

But the green message, the New York Times has pointed out, is not supported by environmental statistics, which show, among other things, that many of our rivers are so polluted they are now unsafe for swimming.

Massey University senior lecturer in environmental science Mike Joy, who was quoted in the article, says New Zealand is actually badly polluted.

His comments are supported by a recent report in the Bay of Plenty Times that farm run-off and dodgy sewage tanks have made many Bay of Plenty rivers unsafe to swim in.

The recreational water quality report from the Ministry for the Environment, which assessed the country's 210 freshwater beaches and 248 coastal beaches over five consecutive summers, showed most of New Zealand's favourite monitored freshwater swimming spots are a health risk and should be avoided.

Tourism New Zealand says the campaign is one of the most successful destination marketing campaigns in the world and was not just about the environment, but the whole package.

I don't agree.

The environment is the key selling point used to attract tourists to these shores.

No doubt they actually believe the slogan.

The single outstanding feature of this country is the stunning landscape that provides limitless lifestyle opportunities.

If New Zealand wants to continue to market itself as a clean green country then it should make an effort to live up to the image it wants to project.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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