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Make NZ known the world over for design - speech

Make New Zealand known the world over for design

Jim Anderton's speech to Converge 05 - creative industries conference.

Launch of Converge 05 16 April 2004

Rakaia Building Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology

Converge Trust chair Bruce Irvine Executive Director Paddy Austin Members of the Converge Trust

If you draw a 2200-mile circle around Wellington, it will take in a lot of fish and some penguins.

If you draw the same circle around any European capital, it will cover a market of 350 million people.

We live in the most isolated developed country in the world.

Certainly our isolation poses challenges for reaching markets.

But it has also delivered special advantages.

We have had to be more resourceful because we have had to solve so many problems ourselves.

We have had the freedom to try things out.

Our resourcefulness is the key to overcoming the disadvantages of isolation.

It is our greatest strength.

It is the talent we most need to be known by.

One of the main aims of this event is to convince New Zealanders and the world of our resourcefulness.

In doing so, we can hope to generate new creative initiatives.

We can build the relationships we need to unlock the potential of our creativity.

Traditionally in New Zealand we relegated the role of design, to an add- on.

We relied heavily on commodity exports - frozen meat, wool bales, butter and logs.

But consider this: A hundred and twenty years ago, farmers used to say New Zealand would never export frozen meat, nor butter nor cheese.

They believed our future lay almost solely in the export of wool bales.

It took the dreams of William Saltau Davidson to develop refrigerated shipping.

He had the courage and foresight to see the potential of innovation.

Exporting meat and dairy in refrigerated conditions was a brilliant idea.

It transformed our economy and produced a century of prosperity.

Back in Davidson's day, commerce was conducted along railways lines or in the holds of ships.

There will always be a role for manufactured products.

But real value today is not in the weight of products, but in the weightless ideas that underpin products.

Ideas travel not on ships, but through phones lines, through the Net, and through the ether.

Most of the value in a piece of meat exported from New Zealand today is in the science, marketing, and packaging that underpins it.

Like wise, we need to build not only the value of existing products, we need to add new industry based on creativity.

Consider this: The United States exported the same weight of goods in 200 as in 1900.

Yet the value of exports increased massively.

Consider the emphasis out most successful companies place on design at the centre of the production process:

Fisher and Paykel.

CWF Hamilton.

The edge of these companies is creativity, design and technology - the values this event is being held to celebrate, develop and to inspire.

We are the lowest exporter of complex manufactured products in the world.

We import five times as much complex manufactured product as we export.

The next lowest in the OECD is Greece - and it imports three times as much as it exports.

We need to export more - far more - products based on the unique skills and creativity of New Zealanders.

We need to transform the industrial base of the economy.

When we sat down in government and said we wanted to transform the economy, we decided to work with industries with the greatest potential to make a rapid difference to our economy.

The creative industries were identified as one.

Creative industries include film, fashion, music, design and digital media.

Currently the creative industries contribute just over 3% to GDP.

We want to see this level grow.

The other industries we identified were information communication and technology (ICT); and biotechnology.

These industries can deliver powerful export growth for New Zealand in their own right.

But more importantly they also act as enablers for other industries - helping to push them up the value chain.

They are not, of course, the only three vital industries for development.

But they are very important because they have the greatest potential for the quickest return.

The average output of all New Zealand workers nationally is $60,000 per person.

The average added value output of a worker in a Christchurch electronic engineering firm is $250,000.

The average value added by a biotech worker in Taranaki? $1 million - each.

We need to create more industry dependent on creativity, design and innovation.

This event is timely.

It builds on the substantial international profile we have developed.

The Lord of the Rings is the most conspicuous example of growing global awareness of our successful creativity.

As Time magazine wrote last August:

"When Peter Jackson made a Hobbit hit without leaving home, he unleashed a creative dynamism that's turned New Zealand into a mini Hollywood."

It's less common now for people to ask 'where is New Zealand.'

It's more common to say, 'I want to know more about New Zealand.'

The perception of all New Zealand exports is helped to move from 'mountains and sheep'; to 'talent, creativity and innovation.'

Some examples of our creativity. Talent and innovation were spawned by the Lord of the Rings Films:

Massive Software: The New Zealand company that developed innovative software for simulating crowd behaviour for films. It animated battle scenes in the Lord of the Rings and made the awesome battle scenes possible.

Steven Regelous received a scientific achievement Academy Award in 2004 for his work.

His company gained several new high profile film and television clients.

Virtual Katy: Revolutionary motion picture sound editing software developed in New Zealand to streamline production of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The Thunderbirds Are Go action movie, and Bridget Jones' Diary II will also utilise the technology.

The time couldn't be better to use our links with the rest of the world to build on our innovative business ideas.

The companies I mentioned are attending SIGGRAPH 04, the largest computer graphics and interactive technologies conference in the world.

They're going there with assistance from NZ Trade and Enterprise - my industry development agency.

They'll be there with other New Zealand companies, like Weta Digital, showcasing the technology behind LOTR.

Lewis Platt, the Chairman of the Boeing Company, said last month:

"To my way of thinking, the film industry has been to New Zealand what Singapore Airlines has been to Singapore, and what Emirates Airlines has become to UAE. All three are outstanding global success stories and badges of national excellence."

His comment reflects the growing value of our uniqueness.

We are a young, fresh and diverse nation with a unique combination of cultural influences.

Nowhere else in the world has a population of Maori.

No other place in the world can unleash the potential of South Pacific cultural blends that we can.

These are advantages and we need to unleash the commercial potential of these influences on our creativity.

Our challenge now is to harness that energy and translate it into export earnings and international recognition.

The government is playing its part.

We are working in partnership with industry.

We set up industry taskforces to help unleash the potential of each sector.

The design taskforce reflected on New Zealand's under-utilisation of design and creativity.

It targeted our low appreciation of the value of design and the value of creativity.

As a result the government has announced support for a major four-year programme, worth $12.5 million.

It will enable New Zealand business to improve product and communications design.

If we can harness creative talent in a way that produces better design, then we are some of the way towards creating more demand for our high value products and therefore selling more.

The Design Strategy has been produced to achieve real results that help to transform our economy.

A board of leading designers, educators and businesspeople will be appointed to a Design Leadership Group.

Over the next few months New Zealand Trade and Enterprise will introduce a series of design based programmes.

They will help companies to utilise design in order to improve products and services.

The programme will aim to increase awareness of the value of design - both for businesses and for New Zealand.

It will help to promote a culture of creativity.

Perhaps our greatest scientists was Lord Rutherford.

He said, 'we don't have much money, so we have to think'.

Our challenge is to use our freedom to think and our innovation to build a growing economy and improve the living standard of all New Zealanders.

I want us to be a country where we can afford health care for everyone, educational standards and a quality of life as good as anywhere.

But we need an economy as good as anywhere if we're going to be capable of delivering it.

The quality of life New Zealanders aspire to can't be produced by a low-cost, low-value, low-skill and low-rewards economy, either.

Design creates the edge we need if we are going to sell our products on excellence, instead of trying to compete at the bottom on price.

I congratulate Christchurch City for their vision in helping to bring this event about and for helping to involve the whole country.

This will be a very significant event.

It will have international as well as national implications.

It will help to position New Zealand around our greatest strength.

It will help to unlock the importance of design, of creativity and of innovation in everything we do.

I want our country to be known worldwide for design.

I want our creativity to be envied the world over.

I would like to see our innovation developed for the benefit of all New Zealanders, for the jobs, the incomes, for the living standards and for the excitement it can all bring.

We are on the way.

We are discovering how high we can reach.

We have important work to do.

The possibilities for what New Zealand may become are ours to create.

I wish you all the best to go forward and find the potential of our enormous creative potential.


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