Keen: It’s 100 per cent gotta’ stay

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It hasn’t been 100 per cent pure New Zealand since the coal-powered Earnslaw started smoking its way across Lake Wakatipu in 1912 to transport stock.

Or since we started pumping treated sewage into the local Shotover River.

Now, more than a century later, we’re still using the Earnslaw steamship and her historic fuel system – it’s part of her charm – to give tourists a grand trip back in time. And we’re still pumping treated sewage into the Shotover River, much to the annoyance of local iwi Ngai Tahu.

So in scientific terms, no, NZ and Queenstown aren’t 100 per cent pure as the marketing hype suggests.

But we don’t blimmin’ need to be.

To all the bleaters out there who reckon it’s time to ditch the ‘100 per cent pure NZ’ slogan on the back of the Fonterra contamination scare, get a life.

I’m 100 per cent serious.

For starters, it’s important to know the correct full length of this genius slogan, conceived on the back of a napkin on a trans-Tasman flight years ago – it’s ‘100 per cent pure NZ’.

Thus it’s always been about the 100 per cent pure New Zealandness of the experience you have while here.

To shout about the fact we’re not 100 per cent pure on the environmental front or in terms of our food safety record is to bastardise the slogan.

It’s meant to be emblematic of what you do, see, feel and throw yourself off while here.

Sure, it’d be dishonest to argue our supposed cleanness and greenness isn’t inherently meant to be fused into the ideas and images that the phrase conjures up, but it’s not to be taken too literally.

And in some ways it’d be nice to think of ‘100 per cent pure NZ’ as aspirational, something to aim for as a nation and a tourist hotspot.

So maybe try 100 per cent relaxing about it – it’s just a marketing slogan, and a pretty bloody good one.

This jingoistic one-liner very successfully fronts the NZ experience to the world and isn’t a statement printed in a scientific journal.

I rather like last year’s analogy by Prime Minister John Key – made before this whole Fonterra situation fuelled the fire and calls to dump it.

Key compared ‘100 per cent pure NZ’ to burger giant McDonald’s’ ‘I’m loving it’ campaign.

“I’m not sure every moment that someone’s eating McDonald’s they’re loving it … it’s the same thing with 100 per cent pure, it’s got to be taken with a pinch of salt,” he told media.

That’d be 100 per cent bang-on.