Thought Leader: What’s New Zealand’s ave’ia?

New Zealand’s opportunity to dive into troubled world has never been better. At present, we feed about 20 million people globally, and it’s possible that we could feed 50 million within the next 25 years. Even then, that will only be 0.5 percent of the world’s population.
Where are these markets? Can we upgrade our product qualities to deliver higher price points for us? And how do we use our intellect to add value in these beautiful islands?
No matter how long we’ve been here, we’re all Euro-nesians with new eye to the north. We must return to the old world from the new, taking with us our unique IP, regardless of where it’s made.
As our Englishness shrinks away, we’re only just beginning to decide what we replace it with. Being inspired by the environment around us in fashioning our products and services is the key to offering something different in crowded world of choice.
Like the early Polynesian navigators we have to set new course: new star path – our own ave’ia.
As New Zealanders we have to find our own way to reinvigorate this economy. In our case, our grass is greener but grass alone won’t get us where we need to be.
Long-term sustainable change happens only when people discover their own power. The secret is moving the centre of gravity to where decisions are made: closer to the people in the community and away from centrally directed, top-down approach.
We need to navigate new future. We can no longer mine the land from an agricultural perspective simply to produce commodities.
We are now the world’s leading pastoralists but, sadly, we still have to measure our wealth’s temperature by tiny movements in our exchange rates.
When the going gets tough we always do more of the same with vengeance. We merge meat companies and promote more tourism. We become obsessed with process improvement as opposed to product improvement.
It’s hard for New Zealanders to get concerned about their place in the global world. There’s kind of antipodean smugness, not helped by our gorgeous countryside and wonderful food.
That’s easily brought on in most of us. I’ve just returned from San Francisco where really great parking space can move you to tears.
These aren’t easy times to read. People are desperate to blame some system or leaders. Right at this moment, in the EU the term “spending penny” has been replaced by “Euro…nating”.
For long time I’ve spoken publicly about the national identity which continues to elude us. Who are we? And what do we stand for?
At regional level too many of our cities are still guilty of crashing out new logos, campaigns and taglines, which do little for our souls. They fail to engage sector-by-sector, life-stage by life-stage and help us connect the dots.
Even many of our large corporates – particularly the utility companies and banks – have an inability to understand local identity in attempting to capture the hearts of New Zealanders.
Most of us are collection of bits and bytes and dislocated cultures, and in the absence of constitution we struggle to define who we are.
For me, New Zealand’s brand values are best captured in six words: unaffected, honest, open, young, active and fresh. Understanding these at national and provincial level is critical.
We’re only just beginning to realise that our journey has to be different.
So my challenge to New Zealand is to ask what the world wants from us at its edge. And how do we deliver it sustainably? Essentially, what’s New Zealand’s ave’ia? M

Brian Richards is one of New Zealand’s leading brand strategists. To view Richards’ presentation at the recent global conference of The Competitiveness Institute: and

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