The Foreign Correspondents Association

  • Murray McCully
International Trade

International Media Centre
Level 29, 60 Margaret Street Sydney

I greatly appreciate this opportunity to address the overseas media representatives here in Sydney, because I am on a mission.

A few weeks ago, "Time" magazine provided Sydney with a very generous article, outlining its role as the first major city to see the dawn of the next Millennium. For us in New Zealand this has presented a small problem.

Those who have recently consulted an atlas will know that the first inhabited land to see the dawn of the next century will be Pitt Island, an island in the Chathams group, off the east coast of our South Island. The first city, Gisborne, on New Zealand's east coast, will see the light approximately forty five minutes later, followed by our largest city, Auckland.

It would be fair to say that we have some plans to use our position in the international time zone from a branding and marketing point of view. These plans will be linked to a number of high profile events which we will host in New Zealand over the next 12 months, without of course in any way undermining the efforts of our good friends in Sydney.

And where better to start the process of getting the record straight than here in Sydney where, since you have so much going for you already, you have no need to capitalise on the errors of "Time" magazine to our disadvantage.

I understand that taxpayers in Australia have, through one means or another, invested over $3 billion in developing facilities to host the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

They have not, of course, done so in the expectation of a return on that investment as visitors pour through the turnstiles to watch the Olympic Games. Rather, Australia expects to receive a handsome return as trade, tourism and investment are boosted in the ensuing five or more years.

The profile and the capacity for leverage from the Games will, I am sure, provide Australia with a huge return in the early part of the next century. We in New Zealand, as a nation of only 3.7 million, and with no capacity to deliver infrastructure on the scale of Sydney, have had to think a little differently. But the principles are the same.

Right now, the World Cup of Golf is being played at Whangaparaoa, north of Auckland. Half sponsored by the New Zealand Tourism Board, this event kicks off a series of high profile events which cumulatively we expect to give us, on a scale which is substantial in our terms, a high international profile. The World Cup of Golf will place New Zealand on television screens across nearly 200 million homes in 138 countries. Each days coverage is preceded by a one minute clip on New Zealand as a tourism destination.

And of course, we have several hundred accredited and many unaccredited media in New Zealand, providing not only coverage of the event but also we hope of some of our tourism attributes.

Next year we will host the APEC conference, bringing the leaders of 21 Asian Pacific countries to New Zealand, under the gaze of over 2500 media. Those media will provide coverage back to an audience of over one billion people, with all of the additional profile enhancing opportunities which flow from such a weighty gathering.

The Americas Cup challenger series commences straight after APEC, with a television audience estimated at 500 million watching an event which extends from October 1999 to March 2000. Between the challenger series and the defender series for the Americas Cup, we welcome the arrival of the next Millennium.

Over the next few weeks we will be announcing details of plans which have been under way for some time to translate our fortunate position in the international time zone into coverage on television screens all around the world.

And you will be pleased to hear that we regard the Year 2000 Olympics as the final event in our Millennium programme. We strongly supported the Sydney bid for the Games, because we believe they will be good - short and long term for our region.

Currently, 64% of the long haul visitors to New Zealand also visit Australia. Anything which builds profile, investment, trade and tourism in Sydney is good for our whole region.

And, of course, never again will so many of our athletes have the opportunity to compete at an Olympics in an environment they should feel so comfortable in.

I have outlined for you a series of events spanning the next two years which give New Zealand cumulatively the biggest opportunity to be noticed which it will have for some decades. And we are intent on making the most of it.

For a start, you will see some consistency about our branding. The black flag with the silver fern is not our national flag - yet - but you will see it as our brand across all of the events I have outlined including the Millennium activities.

The All Blacks, the Americas Cup winning yacht Black Magic, our cricketers the Black Caps, our world champion womens rugby players the Black Ferns, our Commonwealth and Olympic Games athletes, all uniquely use black and the silver fern.

It is also a brand which is used by many of our most successful exporters of agricultural products, manufactured goods, wine and information technology.

For New Zealanders the silver fern on the black background enshrines something special about both our history, and our confidence about our future;

a belief that our size and relative isolation are not a handicap, but rather an advantage,
that by being smaller, leaner, more competitive, we can foot it with much larger players with stronger asset bases.
We have adopted the "First to the Future" slogan as a deliberate positioning statement to encapsulate what we see as the essential kiwi spirit.

So for the next two years, you will see us looking to build a brand that already has some presence and some values.

The challenge for a small nation like New Zealand is to get noticed.

Let me illustrate this for you. To buy a 30 second spot during the final episode of the Seinfeld programme shown in the United States would cost $3.8 million New Zealand dollars. On that basis, the entire North American budget for the New Zealand Tourism Board for the year could have bought us 48.5 seconds.

Given the obvious limits to our ability to buy international media impact, you can see why I am so excited about the opportunities ahead. It was that distinguished New Zealander Rutherford who said "we do not have the money, so we have to think."

New Zealand has been doing a good deal of thinking and we have now, in effect, entered the action phase.

Finally, may I suggest to you that as we look forward to a period in which there will be so many reasons for people to travel to New Zealand and Australia, that we owe it to ourselves to make it as easy as possible for those who will visit both. There are still opportunities for us to work more closely together to reduce the paper work and improve the facilitation of those who enter one of our two countries through the other.

I have raised this issue with my Australian counterpart in our talks yesterday, and I believe that our officials should be able to deliver opportunities for us to make progress over the coming months.