NZ's 100% Pure claim rubbished by UK press

MT COOK: New Zealand's most famous mountain as it features in the 100% Pure campaign.
MT COOK: New Zealand's most famous mountain as it features in the 100% Pure campaign.

One of the world's biggest news websites has slammed New Zealand over the Fonterra crisis with a headline piece saying the country's environmental claims are "pure manure".

Britain's Daily Mail Online , which also publishes the conservative Daily Mail, says New Zealand has a poor environmental record.

"For a country that markets itself to the world with the slogan '100% Pure', New Zealand's environmental credentials are not as impeccable as many would think," the piece said.

Rivers were too polluted to swim in and the record on preservation of natural environments was among the worst in the world on a per capita basis, it said.

New Zealand was the only OECD country not to produce a regular national report on its environment.

The Mail said the country commands high prices due to its reputation as a producer of safe, natural and high-quality foods - then came the Fonterra debacle and the botulism scare.

"It was only a matter of time before our dirty little secret came out," Jill Brinsdon, brand strategist at Radiation, a brand agency in Auckland, told the Mail.

"Fonterra is our largest exporter and they're completely intertwined with New Zealand's image and also they're the absolute biggest benefactor of the '100% Pure' brand.

"When you're coming out with something that presents itself as fact, or 100 per cent pure, then you have to be 100 per cent pure and we've proven that we're not."

Alongside photos of pollution, the Mail article said marketing "overlooks a dark side to the country's environmental credentials".

Dairy farming had been a significant cause of poor river quality due to fertiliser and effluent runoff, it said.

"Because we've had a lack of regulation on farm waste for 20 years it's been a free for all, so farmers have done what they can to produce more milk - which is to put more cows on pastures," said Mike Joy, an ecology and environmental sustainability scientist at Massey University.

The Mail said New Zealand has the highest rate in the developed world of food-borne campylobacteriosis, a disease caused by a bacteria often found in uncooked chicken.

Tourism New Zealand spokesman Chris Roberts said the Daily Mail story had been around for six months but had been dusted off with a Fonterra flavour added.

The author was a New Zealander and there had been very little agitation overseas about 100% Pure - it was viewed widely as one of the most successful tourism campaigns of all time, he said.

It would remain Tourism New Zealand's core marketing campaign.

"It has wide tourism sector support and most importantly, it works," Roberts said.

"The latest adaption is 100% Middle-earth, 100% Pure New Zealand, connecting the huge exposure The Hobbit trilogy is getting around the world with New Zealand."

Some Daily Mail readers were dismissive of the piece in their comments.

Said one: "What a crock. 60 percent of our [UK] rivers are braided over gravel and only about a foot [30 centimetres] deep, so you can't swim in them anyway."

Angela: "A much better place to bring up children and cleaner than most European countries I've ever been to."

Another: "If NZ has a poor environmental record god help the rest of the world - i have been visited and all I saw was clean air, clean water and ate very fresh food."

Fairfax Media