The Green Party's election campaign will feature the slogan Love New Zealand against a backdrop of negative images.
Among them will be pictures of the Rena cleanup, children with no shoes, a traffic jam and the Waihi mine.
The images, unveiled this morning, are in stark contrast to the Greens' previous positive campaign messages.
But the party's strategists said that its soundings had suggested painting a picture of too bright a future lacked credibility and was naive.
Co-leader Russel Norman said there was a "dissonance" in the advertisements between "this is what we believe but this is what needs to change".
Fellow co-leader Metiria Turei said the campaign would focus on the issues where people felt "we do not love New Zealand enough".
That included the polluted environment, increased poverty and inequality, and an economy that did not benefit all - issues voters cared about.
The Greens will also use the social media hashtags #Greens2014 and #Love NZ which they contrasted with National's #TeamKey.
Norman said National's hashtag was "internally contradictory" and based around a personality campaign.
The Greens would not run a personality-based campaign, although the two leaders admitted the voters needed to know who they were.
"Russel and I expect that we will be part of a Cabinet, so the public need to know not only that we have a plan for the issues that affect them but to know the people who will be rolling out that that plan," Turei said.
The campaign would be a referendum on National's six years in office.
"New Zealanders deserve a real debate on how we can build a cleaner environment, fairer society and smarter economy," Turei said.
"At the moment loving New Zealand requires real action from all of us."
Elections should be "confronting not comforting", she said.
"Sixty-one per cent of our monitored river swimming spots are too polluted to swim in, 35,000 more kids grow up in poverty, and half of all New Zealanders incomes have stood still or gone backwards."
The billboards highlighted the reality of living in this country under National, she said.
"Do we love New Zealand enough when kids go to school without lunch, when the act of getting to work means being stuck in traffic or when the Government knowingly increases the serious risk of an oil spill on our gorgeous beaches?"
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