Tourism New Zealand is changing tack with its 100% Pure campaign, by emphasising people as well as the place.

Although the 19-year-old campaign had always been multi-dimensional, chief executive Stephen England-Hall said sweeping vistas had been at the heart of it.

''What it doesn't do is showcase New Zealand's unique people and culture, our way of being, our warm welcome,'' he said at the Trenz tourism event in Dunedin.

He said the government agency would work with Maori Tourism and other interested groups before a planned relaunch around the middle of next year.


''One thing we have observed is that it is very easy to screw that up.''

He said the experience of Kiwis was what stayed with people after they had visited.

''But, what we're seeing, it is about the people and the place - that's at the heart of the evolution and how to bring to life the unique characteristics of New Zealand,'' he told the Herald.

The 100% Pure campaign has attracted criticism from around the world and in this country from those who highlight dirty rivers and other environmental concerns as evidence it was over-promising.

England-Hall said nobody could promise a 100 per cent pure environment and the switch in emphasis was not about aimed at defusing the criticism.

''I think if we were scared off the promise of the commitment we would ditch it altogether. Because it is so powerful, people who want to get a different message out there want to hang something off it.''

By emphasising people there would also be risks. He agreed some of the country's social measures were ''shocking'' and that could provide further scope for critics.

''People like to attach their environmental ideology to the 100% Pure campaign as we include people and culture in that undoubtedly there will be others who will try to leverage that.''


He said the latest video campaign by his organisation gave a flavour of what could be to come.

A Tourism New Zealand video, #GetNZontheMap, featuring Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and actor Rhys Darby discussing the absence of New Zealand on certain maps had been viewed around the world.

''You're going to see more of that sort of content because it does show our irreverence as a culture - the fact that we are prepared to take the Mickey out of ourselves,'' said England-Hall.

''That expression of humour and culture is as 100% Pure New Zealand as the vista over Milford.''

The change of tack would not need any more spending from the tourism marketing agency which gets about $117 million of funds from the Government. It would also do research overseas before the relaunch.