When the discreet request arrived, commissioning me to rebrand New Zealand's international image, I had to ask myself, am I the right man for the job?

After all, I live in a sealed-off bubble of luxury, in uppity Parnell, where the narrow streets are congested with vehicle pollution and the neglected sidewalks are paved with chewing gum.

Plus, of course, there's the constant odour of sewage from a waste system that's not coping with all the tawdry apartment blocks springing up, and the excessive diesel fumes from the commuter trains plying back and forth.

I repeat, am I the right man to better the existing slogan: "100 per cent Pure New Zealand"? - when clearly I'm overwhelmingly influenced by my opulent surroundings and might end up merely tweaking the existing theme. Perhaps, something like "New Zealand is rather like 100 per cent Pure Parnell."


My PR advisers believe that, like those TV millionaires who go undercover, I should temporarily vacate my lavish surroundings and go walkabout.

"Discover the real purity of the country," they suggest, adding anxiously, "make sure though, it's nowhere near the Manawatu River, because the Cawthron Institute recently stated that particular waterway has the distinction of being one of the dirtiest rivers in the Western world."

I'm also advised to avoid travelling to our wonderful South Island river locations because of the dreadful invasive "rock snot" suffocating many prime sites.

By now, mystified readers might ask: "Why you to create a new image for this country?"

Well, I suppose I should modestly admit that as a cartoonist, I have some familiarity with euphemistic jargon and worn-out cliches.

In this case, I guess I've been asked to take a fast-dying metaphor and replace it with something about New Zealand that's truly believable to the outside world. Like Hobbiton or Middle Earth.

I've already advised Fonterra to rebrand its milk powder cans with the slogan, "As consumed daily by contented Hobbit babies".

Another idea from my advisers is to run a competition, inviting readers to submit a suitable homily we can all live with.

We need to avoid all that hedonistic stuff pretending we're virgin pure, thus sparing us the planet's endless derision when the next inevitable stuff-up occurs.

For the winners, I will organise the usual knighthoods, the next time I run into the PM at our local fish and chip shop.