Why being true to brand New Zealand is the best option for New Zealand Agriculture
We have inherited a brand. New Zealand was the last major land mass on earth to be colonised by humans, it is distant from most of the world’s population and has beautiful scenery and biodiversity. This brand is about a safe, unspoiled last paradise, or to quote a Rudyard Kipling poem: the “last, loneliest, loveliest, exquisite apart --”. Brand New Zealand has been used for many years to sell our products and services around the world and in recent times Tourism New Zealand has built a marketing strategy around it, 100% Pure.
This study has come about because of a genuine belief that New Zealand is the greatest country to live in on earth. We are however regressing in some critical ways. The author believes we can stop the regression and build a robust and resilient economy without significant environmental loss. People are realising more and more the interconnectivity of all things on earth, human health with environmental health, our actions on environmental health and at the same time becoming globally connected within an instant by modern media. We are still perceived as clean and green by most of the world, and compared to many countries we are. Because of our position in the world, our brand and our demonstrated conservation leadership, we have a huge opportunity to leverage our economy into a higher value sustainable space that could be the envy of the rest of the world.
A Nuffield Scholarship has enabled the author to investigate this vision – including two international research tours, a study of international visitors and a survey of business and environmental leaders. It has helped him to learn, grow and gain a perspective, and now he can share what he has learnt This report studies the reasons why being true to Brand New Zealand is the best option for New Zealand agriculture. The aim of this study is to show that New Zealand, and particularly our farmers, need to be ahead of the game, stay relevant and have products in high demand in order to survive in a rapidly changing and sophisticated global marketplace. This report looks at the advantages as well as possible pitfalls this approach could entail.
The author was raised in backcountry New Zealand, travelled the world as a young man and learnt how lucky we are to live in this country. He built an eco-tourism farm in the backcountry and realised that we need to unite to look after New Zealand. Individual conservation efforts will never achieve as much as a combined and collaborative strategy will. From the world study and surveys conducted we know that New Zealand’s environment is hugely important to everyone; it is in fact the backbone of our economy.
Based on all that has been learnt or gleaned from the scholarship study, the following recommendations are made to help kiwis build a healthier, wealthier, more sustainable future:
- New Zealand should develop a positive and engaging environmental vision that consolidates the aspirations of multiple key industries and the public in protecting what makes us famous.
- New Zealand’s 100% pure image is our competitive advantage. As a nation we must strongly question anything that is counter-productive to our brand.
- The world is not short of food but healthy, quality products are in demand. New Zealand must align with what the world wants.
- We can adopt and adapt best practices from other parts of the world. A more formal study should be completed of nations that are managing their environments well and strengthening their brands.
- We need strong industry leadership to build some collaborative goals between agriculture and tourism. For example Federated Farmers and Tourism Industry Association could build a combined strategy that is mutually beneficial to the New Zealand story.
- An economic shift towards value-add food and beverage production and visitor experiences should be developed.
- As international tourism to New Zealand continues to grow, we need to ensure that these visitors become customers of our produce and then go onto become ambassadors telling our story on our behalf.
- Agriculture needs an education plan showing farmers what the affluent of the world are demanding: traceable, higher quality products with a story.
- Educate New Zealand to realise that complacency is the biggest threat to the future health and prosperity of our nation. Every farm needs a conservation strategy that is being put into action.
- As a nation, we need to find innovative ways to increase our environmental spend by exploring more diverse sources of revenue for conservation.
- New Zealand should implement visionary conservation programmes such as Predator Free New Zealand that will demonstrate our commitment to safeguarding our natural assets and engage people from all walks of life.
In summary we have a huge opportunity to lead the world in clean green living and to leverage serious economic benefit from this. The author believes these recommendations would strengthen our brand and start steering us in the right direction to supplying affluent consumers healthy products and experiences. The world is waiting for leadership around global issues such as climate change, resource use and safety. New Zealand can do it, let's pull our socks up!