Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Key 100% behind slogan

PM acknowledges country's reputation has been damaged through Fonterra problems

John Key says the challenge for the country and Fonterra is to restore confidence with Chinese consumers. Photo / SNPA
John Key says the challenge for the country and Fonterra is to restore confidence with Chinese consumers. Photo / SNPA

Prime Minister John Key remains 100 per cent behind the 100 per cent Pure marketing campaign - despite criticism after Fonterra's crisis and product recall.

He acknowledged New Zealand's reputation has been damaged by the botulism scare of the past week, but likened it to a recent recall of BMW cars in China.

Speaking to reporters at the National Party conference in Nelson yesterday, Key said the 100 per cent Pure campaign was not meant to be taken literally.

He dismissed criticism of the brand from British tabloid the Daily Mail which, he said, "probably doesn't like us doing the haka when we have All Black test matches as well".

"Just because the Daily Mail doesn't like it, we won't be changing it."

The real issue was what Chinese consumers thought of New Zealand products and he conceded some damage had been done.

"The challenge now for New Zealand and for Fonterra is to restore confidence with Chinese consumers. It is not to abandon the marketing campaign we have run for decades now to successfully promote New Zealand."

Key said New Zealanders cared a lot about the environment and had very high food standards.

The issues had to be seen in perspective with issues such as a recall of BMW cars in China recently.

"I don't think anyone is going to turn around and say it is not the ultimate driving machine or turn around and say Germany is not the powerhouse of manufacturing automobiles."

Key said he would go to China, but only after an inquiry had been held, so he could answer questions about what happened.

One side issue raised around this weekend's conference is replacing New Zealand's flag with a silver fern ensign. Key played down any such move despite telling a local Nelson magazine that, if he could change anything overnight, he would want to change the flag to the silver fern.

He said it would not be changed without a referendum and he had no plans to propose one.

"Like a lot of things the Prime Minister of the day might like or not like, it's not something that's on the agenda that's going to happen overnight." It did attract a lot of support in online forums though.

The conference attracted about 250 protesters on a range of issues including asset sales, animal testing for party pills and Auckland housing.

Cutting the recreational snapper catch was not a protest subject, but Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has said that accepting the option of changing to a limit of three from nine was unlikely.

- Herald on Sunday

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