The land of pure quality? Back
There is nothing like a trip away to shed fresh perspectives on your own life and the country you love and live in.
Time and again while I was travelling, I compared New Zealand to the countries I was in, and time and again I returned to one question. Why do we, who are such great travellers and innovators, still undervalue what we have?
Way out here on our emerald island surrounded by a teal sea we live on the edge of the world and the edge of civilisation. This distance both allows us, and drives us to push boundaries, which we do constantly. Our population is small and our environment pure (well in comparison to most countries, though we can and should do better). The truth is, given our size we will never be able to compete on price or volume, so why are we buying in to the commodities game? Our sights as a nation should be focused on best practice and best quality. Everything we produce can and should be of incomparable quality. Our products should be grown, crafted and packaged in a way that makes them the ‘haute couture’ or beluga caviar of their individual fields (I forgot to mention I also ate my way through Europe – delicious, but alas no caviar). No Michelin star restaurant worth its salt would be seen without New Zealand meats and wines on their menus, a seven star hotel without NZ product could and should be seen as a joke.
Earths population is large and part of it is looking for the utmost in quality, a lot of the time they are receiving fake luxury and they know it. True luxury is not produced by large multinational companies – who ensure you can find a sparkling designer store on every high street in the world (… doesn’t that create a pang of McDonalds to you?) and make sure bottles of champagne can be found in any good wine store and restaurant on the globe. True luxury means rarity, authenticity, provenance and craftsmanship. Our land, our know how, our passion and our size, mean New Zealand can truly own this territory. All we have to do is realise our worth and act on this.
Our ‘number eight wire’ attitude, that has allowed us to accomplish so much, can also be seen as a hindrance. Once we have patted ourselves on the back (sometimes in astonishment we have actually ‘done it’) for creating something incredible with half the resources anyone else has available, we often forget that the actual end product is of huge value and should be treated and marketed as such. The same goes for our natural products. Everything grown and produced in this country is nurtured in one of the purest places on the planet and should be produced, packaged and marketed to reflect this.
I was horrified to hear a few years ago that brokers representing different New Zealand meat companies in the UK actually undercut each other to win business. Hello! Can we wake up and realise we are competing with the rest of the world NOT with each other. As a small nation we have to work collaboratively to succeed, gain ground and a reputation for incomparable quality. We have to collectively realise and believe in what we have, knowing that although we consistently punch above our weight we are still small in comparison to many countries. Our industry is ‘boutique’ and our products rare. Even products we treat as commodities are in the eyes of the world limited edition. If we don’t respect and value our limited edition products we cannot expect the world to believe in them either. Policy, strategy and integrated design for these products is at the core of making our products globally more successful. We congratulate all ‘ Tall Poppies ’ for sticking their necks out and opening the doors of what’s possible for the rest to see. If we all work collaboratively in our fields of expertise and as a nation, we can build a culture, environment and structure that allows us to produce unparalleled products – establishing us as the land of pure quality. I may be an idealist but ideals are what change the world – it’s food for thought.