Whangarei District Council is looking to rebrand itself to forge a better relationship with the public - with two thirds of people not knowing what the council does - in an exercise that will cost $171,000 over two years.

The rebrand may include taking the "council" out of Whangarei District Council.

The move would include a new logo and adding "Whangarei District" to a number of council associated brands such as "Love it Here" and City Safe.

Big Fish Creative is tasked with the job, and made a presentation to councillors in a council briefing earlier this month.


The Whangarei company consulted key stakeholders and the public on their perceptions of the council with 314 people responding to an online survey between January 31 and February 9 this year.

The survey found two thirds of the people couldn't recall what the council was responsible for; almost half feel out of touch with the council and just over half believe the council spends well.

It also found doing "the good" is three times more important to the public than the council performing its legislative and legal functions.

The presentation included a possible new logo - "council" is dropped and "Whangarei District" is changed to lower case, with a macron added to Whangarei.

A Maori translation is planned to go underneath, and a new image would go above. The image would be inspired by the origins of Whangarei.

The presentation included various possible designs, inspired by the Poor Knights lily, Mount Manaia and Reipae and Reitu - twin sisters from the Waikato whose lives intertwined with the story of Whangarei.

Big Fish Creative's Tristan Tuckey said Mt Manaia didn't translate into a stylised design well. It was one of the Reipae and Reitu designs which had the most focus at the meeting.

Councillors all gave their feedback about parts they did and didn't like.


Council CEO Rob Forlong said the re-brand would cost $171,000 which had already been budgeted for the in the Long Term Plan - it is not just for a new logo, but "a strategic branding direction across approximately 40 sub-brands and a multitude of services".

Forlong said the council will replace signs, stationery, car branding etc when they run or wear out and so, operationally, it will cost what the council already spends.

He said the council had been changing the way it does things over the past three years and it wants a better relationship with the community it serves and is part of.

The Loop, Fritter Festival and providing clean water, waste disposal and safe roads are examples of things the council does that people tend to be happy with.

However, people are not so pleased with council activities like making sure people contribute what they should (rates, fees, fines), that they don't harm the environment, dog control and building consents.

"Over time that has generated a bit of a 'them and us' view of council, skewed towards the negative. That doesn't help any of us to do a good job working together, on the same team," Forlong said.

He said times are changing, the council and the community are changing and the new brand represents that change.

The presentation was also made to Te Karearea - the strategic partnership forum between Whangarei hapu and the council - on Wednesday morning to get further feedback.

Forlong said councillors are now talking with their communities and the council is putting information up on it's website and facebook page.

"The process from here will involve refinement of the design and a formal council process for its adoption, hopefully before 1 July. In the meantime, we are happy for people to tell us what they think through these informal processes over the next couple of weeks."

The council hopes to launch the new logo on July 1, to start the new financial year. The legal entity of Whangarei District Council would remain.

The current logo was adopted in 1989 when the Whangarei City, Whangarei County and Hikurangi Town Councils merged.

How dropping the word "council" would work:

The way staff and the public would refer to the council would change as part of the rebrand. Staff would say they worked for the Whangarei District, for example "I'm the consents manager for the Whangarei District".

The mayor would be referred to as Whangarei District Mayor Sheryl Mai. It is yet to be decided whether councillors would still be referred to as councillors or elected leaders.