Today, I want to address the ‘dark side’ of being a New Zealander – no, I’m not referring to murders, drug-dealing and crime; nor the recent loss to the green-and-golds across the Tasman. No, I’m talking about what I’ve come to call the “All Black-ification” of New Zealand; the gradual subsuming (it seems to me) of our national identity to the black and white fern on an often black background.
Today on the train was a young woman wearing with a black jacket emblazoned on the back with ‘newzealand.com’, and a black shoulder bag brashly proclaiming ‘100% Pure NZ’ and directing you to the link traveltrade.newzealand.com, with tips to the travel and tourist industry on “How to sell New Zealand” – all part of the NZ Inc approach: We’re just one big happy business.
I first came across the NZ Inc concept in the National Party manifesto of 2008 – a ‘whole of business’ approach to our overseas dealings – whether it was trade, diplomacy or overseas aid. It ended up, among other things, with the previous semi-autonomous ‘NZAID’ agency focusing on poverty alleviation being pulled back into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade as the NZ Aid Programme, complete with a new image – the black and white fern (it aint silver). The Aid Programme has become another element “flying the flag” to promote New Zealand’s “National interest”.
Now since June 2013, Air New Zealand has being dumping its long-time Oceanic green and teal colours in favour of pure black and white, featuring the New Zealand fern trademark as well as the Air NZ koru. And some of the planes are “All Black” too.
I can’t show on this blog what the trademark is. That would be breaching copyright. But read this interesting and fascinating history – “an official campaign of long-term infiltration” – of how the current “New Zealand Way” black and white fern eventually became the Brand of New Zealand.
Rather telling that the first item under “Tourism New Zealand” in its Wikipedia entry is ‘Rugby”. I just sense this looming darkness washing over our land.
Tell me – are we a Brand, or are we a land?