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Naked In Nuhaka 9: Think, Discover, Be!


The Great Wairoa Branding Debate, Part One

Kia Ora, As some of you may know, I have been involved in a branding debate here in my local district: a proposal for Wairoa to adopt the world’s first Maori regional tourism brand. Over the next two weeks, I am going to tell the story of this polemic to date. Today I republish an article I wrote that first appeared in the local Wairoa Star newspaper back in September. An example letter of response from the local community follows... Naku noa, Leo Koziol Nuhaka, Aotearoa NZ 22.11.02

NAKED IN NUHAKA 9: THINK, DISCOVER, BE! The Great Wairoa Branding Debate, Part One

“Learning To Love Ourselves” By Leo Koziol Op-Ed article first appeared in the Wairoa Star, 24.9.2002

Having followed the discussions around "Kaupapa Wairoa: Think, Discover, Be!", I feel it important to add my "10 cents worth" and, by way of explanation, give some more details on the proposed branding for Wairoa.

Firstly, let me say how wonderful Kaupapa Wairoa is. This was proposed by kaumatua Walter Wilson of Whakaki, and was embraced by many (if not all) at the first well-attended branding meeting back at the start of September. The only negative statements about Kaupapa Wairoa were around it being challenging and original.

Tourists who visit here will have to ask what it means, and a dialogue will have to ensue, similar to what happened when Te Papa became a reality down in Wellington. This is not a bad thing. Indeed, Kaupapa Wairoa loosely translates as "All About Wairoa", meaning: we want visitors to ask us questions, to which we will reply with stories about our rich history, heritage, culture, and tourism opportunities (beaches, bush, marae, meat pies, and so on). All the things that make us uniquely us.

Secondly, let me explain "Think, Discover, Be!". Given the task at the start of the month by the tourism group, I went through a long laundry list of potentials for branding Wairoa, and the more I looked at the options the more there came to be a "sameness" to many of the ideas proposed. Rotorua has "Spirit", as does a dozen other places. Gisborne is "The Edge", as is the whole country. Everyone is "100% Pure". And the list goes on. The only way we can possibly stick out from the (very overcrowded) tourism destination crowd is to be daringly original. And that's exactly what Kaupapa Wairoa is.

KAUPAPA WAIROA will put our region on the map because it is the first promotional slogan for a district or region of our country that is in Te Reo Maori. For a district with 60% Maori population (as at the 2001 Census), this is not only an exciting move but one which reflects the aspirations of the majority of our people. Furthermore, it must be stated that Pakeha showed great support for Kaupapa Wairoa at the first public meeting. Our Maori language is a unique part of all New Zealanders heritage, a part of what makes us all "uniquely Wairoa". Pakeha marketers have latched on to the uniqueness of Te Reo Maori as a branding tool, such as in the new boutique hotel in Napier which has been named Te Pania.

If so desired, we could seek sponsorship from the Maori Language Commission (Taurawhiri i te Reo Maori) to support us in taking the daring step of Kaupapa Wairoa. I hope to contact Dr. Pat Hohepa, the Commission's director, in this regard. At the launch event, I also hope to see Maori wine served, from iwi-owned Tohu Wines in Gisborne.

Starting with the premise that Kaupapa Wairoa is daringly original, I then went through a thought process of what wording might best complement it. That's where "Think, Discover, Be!" came from. Here's an explanation.

THINK is about encouraging people in New Zealand to Think about the kind of tourism experience they haven't had before. To Think about the places in our country that are a little "off the beaten track" and offer the kind of experience quite different to the usual "tourist traps" like Rotorua and Queenstown. Places like Wairoa.

DISCOVER is all about Kaupapa. The more I thought about Kaupapa, the more I thought about "Discovery". Discovering the spirit of this place, its uniqueness. Kaupapa is a Maori concept, and is very much embedded in a notion of taking an holistic view of life in all its dimensions. Holistic means looking at things not in parts, but as a whole. Discovering all there is about Wairoa, it's Kaupapa.

BE! came from a conversation with Wendy Swan, who runs the Tea Rooms in Morere. Wendy meets a lots of travelers from overseas, and told me that we needed to distinguish ourselves internationally, and that words like "spirit" and "edge" are too generic. She said we need to express "Friends for Life", whereby visitors to our district are greeted by friendly faces with an open attitude. A place where strangers can come and just Be themselves, let go of the worries of "urbanitis" and Be!

THINK, DISCOVER, BE! in totality reflects the success of existing international ad campaigns. For example, Apple relaunched their computer line successfully five years ago under the brand "Think Different". This was taken on by Taupo, who said "Think Fresh". To make it successful, "Think Discover Be" could be shortened to "T.D.B!" by our Tamariki, as a surfer/skater acronym for Being Yourself and knowing your Kaupapa. It equally works for our sophisticated Kaumatua who might want to Think about how wonderful this place is, whilst they Discover a bottle of Nuhaka Esk Valley Chardonnay--paired with mesclun salad, also from Nuhaka, Crayfish and Kina from Mahia, and maybe a nice award-winning Mince n' Cheese Pie from Wairoa-and Be very full of puku and happy of heart as a consequence!

I offered "Think, Discover, Be!" as a Tohu to Wairoa, as a gift, to the people at the second branding meeting. Other options were discussed, but, though not unanimously, this was the option that was voted for. I felt honoured at the time, but felt hurt to later get negative comments on it and on Kaupapa Wairoa, both from people in the community and in letters to the Wairoa Star.

The option now is to go back to "Square One" and start all over again, or to acknowledge the community process to date and realise that this proposed brand "Kaupapa Wairoa: Think, Discover, Be!" is only a beginning. The next step is make the brand, the Kaupapa of Wairoa, a reality. To stop bashing the ideas of others just because that's easier than getting off your kumu (bum) and participating. To stop bashing Wairoa and thinking about how others -- such as the recent visitors from the New York Times and the Dominion Post -- have realised just how lucky we are. Even the Wairoa Star had a muted response to the wonderful New York Times and Dominion Post articles, as if we were wondering why they were interested in us in the first place.

These articles should have been front cover news, with the challenge placed at the feet of our leaders asking the big question: What Next? The New York Times has a readership in the millions around the world, the Dominion Post in the thousands here in New Zealand. I think we need a big lesson in learning to love ourselves. Because, in the immortal words of Fred Dagg, "We just don't know how lucky we are".

* * * * *

“Branding Of Wairoa” Letter to the Editor: Wairoa Star, 11.5.2002

Who is this fellow Leo Koziol?

Who gave him license to try and ram his ideas on branding - and that is apparently what he's trying to do - down throats on the web and internet and seek support for petitions.

The ones he has placed in the district are seemingly without signature. He claims that a silent majority back the idea - of Kaupapa Wairoa and the rest of it.

Think again, Mr. Koziol, in fact get real. You've got it all wrong, the majority, silent or not, certainly don't concur with your idea, or is it a dream !

John Jones

* * * * *

Is it not possible, in this day and age, for a Maori brand to be accepted community-wide as an exciting and innovative new way of looking at ourselves?

Are Maori brands only to be left to high-end art-snob establishments (mostly populated by Pakeha) like Tuatara, Te Tuhi, Te Manawa, Pataka and Te Papa?

Have I really raised the ire of Wairoa’s redneck population, or am I just a “hongi snob” for being so daring as to unleash a Maori media virus like “Kaupapa Wairoa” on to the web and the Internet?


* * * * *


The Official KAUPAPA WAIROA! Campaign Page

Rednecks Force Slogan Rethink, Hawkes Bay Today

Te Tuhi - the mark

Te Manawa


Te Papa

PAST COLUMNS Available at:

All content (c) Leo Koziol & Rautaki Group Consultants 2002. The author can be contacted at email: website:

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