New Zealand's advertising watchdog is backing Tourism New Zealand's 100% Pure catch-phrase - refusing to uphold a complaint against the slogan which alleged it was "misleading'' and "unsubstantiated''.

Environmental campaigner Dr Peter Nuttall initially lodged his complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority in March.

According to Dr Nuttall, research into the country's environment showed degradation of its waterways and biodiversity - contradicting the claims made in Tourism New Zealand's 100% Pure campaign.

The authority's decision in May not to uphold Dr Nuttall's complaint was overturned after he appealed and a "process error'' was identified.


The board then decided to re-hear the complaint, which Dr Nuttall said at the time "delighted'' him.

Since then, New Zealand's clean, green reputation and the 100% Pure slogan's has taken a battering on the international stage.

Fonterra's dairy woes, which caused problems with New Zealand's milk exports to several countries - including China, Sri Lanka, Russia, and even Kazakhstan - and flak from the UK's Daily Mail of the Pure brand have contributed to criticism of of New Zealand's Pure brand.

However in the authority's decision, released today, it stated that the 100% Pure expression "did not deceive or mislead the consumer''.

The authority said it had confirmed the slogan was an advertisement used by Tourism NZ to promote the "unique experience'' offered to international tourists, and was not an absolute claim about New Zealand's environmental purity - a point previously made by Prime Minister John Key when asked about the validity of the slogan.

Tourism New Zealand summary comment to the authority regarding the complaint requested the matter be closed once and for all:

"It is disappointing that so much time must be spent on justifying the use of one of the most highly regarded and successful tourism campaigns in the world, while it continues to deliver significant economic benefit to New Zealanders.''

A Tourism New Zealand spokeswoman this afternoon said the organisation were pleased with the outcome.


"We never had any concerns.''

She also said recent criticism of the Pure brand had not raised any concerns.

Dr Nuttall said he was disappointed and was yet to decide if he would appeal against the decision.

"The response to the complaint has been overwhelming,'' he said.

"Almost without exception, most commentators whether they support the complaint or not see a strong environmental connection with the 100% Pure NZ claim.''

Most New Zealanders were fully aware of the "danger of branding the country in such a fragile way''.

"Obviously we can't continue to try and fool the world that we are clean and green when our waterways, our beaches and our biodiversity is in such a poor and declining state,'' Dr Nuttall said.

"Either we need to change the brand or live up to it.''