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Kiwis will Support Growth if it Supports Kiwiness

Media Release
19 April 2004

Kiwis will Support Growth if it Supports “Kiwiness”

Kiwis do not scare easily when it comes to threats of impending economic doom or of a slide down the OECD ratings. They have heard these threats too often and they have lost impact, according to research undertaken by the Government-sponsored Growth and Innovation Advisory Board made up of influential New Zealanders who advise Government on its growth and innovation framework. The Board has just completed research into how to make growth and innovation more meaningful for New Zealanders.

“During the 1980s and 90s New Zealanders bought the idea that they had to tighten their belts and work hard. They did just that, but the perception is that the rewards never really came as they were promised or were taken for granted and, in important respects, life got more stressful,” says Rick Christie, Chairman of the Board.

The research project, conducted by UMR over a six month period in 2003, involved comprehensive surveying of metropolitan and regional samples of New Zealanders including extensive use of focus groups and a nationwide survey.

Kiwis are attracted by the idea of creating a better society and economy for future generations and especially their children. They are motivated by the prospect of better job opportunities and improvements in health and education services. They are particularly motivated by the idea of achieving at an international level whether it be in sport, the arts or business. But most of all they are motivated by two core values – quality of life and quality of environment.

To understand today’s New Zealander you have to understand their commitment to these values,” says Mr Christie.

New Zealanders recognise that there is a need to build our economy to secure our way of life. Interestingly, business, for some, is taking on the same buzz as sport with an emphasis on effort, innovation, creativity and flair, and dedication. Business is seen as ‘cool’ by an increasing number of New Zealanders and as an important vehicle for building personal wealth and lifestyle.

“There is status associated with ‘being in business’. However, there is ongoing suspicion of big business, a suspicion that New Zealanders have harboured for a long time. Alongside this though, there is recognition of the contributions that big business makes in terms of jobs, work for smaller businesses, support for innovation and technology. The research tells us that the captains of big business would derive a great deal more respect from the community and loyalty from their staff if they demonstrably acted in terms of core Kiwi values. Kiwis are motivated to support business goals if they can see the benefits accruing to them, their families and the nation – in a phrase often used – that business goals include “giving something back”.

Innovation also scored a high level of support in the research. Kiwis see themselves as innovators and believe that there is a tradition of innovation going back to pioneering times. They say they are open to new initiatives that will lead to business innovation. Many want to be a part of it and to contribute their ideas to the enterprises they work in. They want to be better recognized and rewarded for these ideas.

“We found this interest in innovation very heartening. New Zealanders realise that we need to add value to our economy to underpin our lifestyle and environmental values. Many are not sure how to contribute and that’s a communication challenge for us.

“Where Kiwis look to for leadership seems to be changing. Traditional authority figures such as politicians, media and trade union leaders do not have the impact or credibility they once did. Instead Kiwis see leadership from within their own networks as more important. That includes friends, family, managers and workmates,” says Mr Christie.


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