Secrets & Lies: Research Reveals the Inconvenient Truth about New Zealanders’ Uneasy Relationships with our Country and our own Identities

There is tension between the aspirations we have for New Zealand as a nation and our personal self-interest, according to new research.


Set against the backdrop of globalisation and identity politics, Secrets & Lies – the National Identity (New Zealand),produced by WPP AUNZ and released today,reveals a country yearning for a bold and positive vision but uneasy about the impact on us as individuals.


It shows that there’s still enormous scope for both business and government if they can connect with New Zealander’s appetite for big, innovative ideas, with 71% of Kiwis believing that they live in one of the most progressive countries in the world.


And while the notion of equality ranks in the top three most important national values, the report also reveals an inconvenient truth; that we’re not entirely comfortable giving too much help to those who need it most. New Zealanders say we want everyone to have a ‘fair go’ but only as long as they’re not getting more opportunity than the rest of us.


Sven Baker Managing Director New Zealand WPP AUNZ said: “The research is a fascinating look into the complicated and complex nature of who Kiwis are as individuals, and how we view ourselves in terms of our nationality. It focuses on what New Zealanders seek for our nation and how progressive we are, all the while asking if New Zealand is still the land of opportunity and what this all means for our leaders.” 

This is the second chapter of the Secrets & Lies (New Zealand) study,whichanalyses the difference between what New Zealanders say and what they think or do. The public values reported versus the private truths hidden.Commissioned by leading creative transformation company, WPP AUNZ, it offers valuable insight into the values and behaviours of New Zealanders. 


Rose Herceg, Chief Strategy Officer and Futurist, WPP AUNZ, said: “With this report, we wanted to understand whether or not New Zealanders’ deeply held truths about the country still stand up. We wanted to explore the values we hold dear and how these impact decisions to vote, buy, recommend or support a brand, organisation or cause. We wanted to help our clients better understand the people they’re trying to connect with.


“And as a result of what we found, WPP AUNZ is challenging policymakers and business leaders to think differently in order to better connect with the contradictory behaviours of their audiences,” she said.


A small global player?


The research reveals that, despite the horrific events in Christchurch, New Zealanders overwhelmingly believe that multiculturalism is the best thing about our nation. In fact, more than half of Kiwis (58%) want an immigration policy shaped towards a more progressive and technology-driven New Zealand. They don’t want to see less immigration. They want to see a New Zealand that can face the challenges of the future with a confident, future-ready workforce.


Mark Jenner, Business Director NZ, WPP AUNZ and Managing Director of Ogilvy International said:“The question for brands and public services is how they can reflect culture and identity through their actions rather than translating messages verbatim.  It’s time to recognise that almost a quarter of New Zealanders live inside at least two cultures. This provides an enormous opportunity to embrace the many cultures and languages of New Zealand.”


The report shows that Kiwis are searching for the ideas that will help shape the future of our nation. Given their ‘internationalist’ views, multicultural New Zealanders are leading the pack when looking for thoughtful solutions around the future of economic and education policy – particularly identifying where tomorrow’s economic growth will come from and who will have the knowledge to run with it.  


“We’re encouraged by the fact that the research demonstrates a strong appetite for big, progressive ideas and the opportunity to export home-grown innovation to the world,” Jenner continued.  “This presents enormous scope for both business and our governments if they can connect that vision with our aspirations as individuals. 


“As a result, Corporate New Zealand needs to ask what role it can play in meeting this need for progressive ideas. There’s huge opportunity and a receptive audience for organisations and brands to take a lead role. Where are the game-changing, home-grown new business models, products and services we can export to the world?”


The study also explored the tension between equality and equity. The notion of equality finds itself in the top three most important values behind safety and freedom. And while New Zealanders have historically treasured fairness and a ‘fair go’, it seems that this has its limits. For example, almost 80 per cent of New Zealanders say welfare payments are the best way to protect those that need help, but they want a fairer and more innovative way of assessing real needs. 


“When it comes to corporate New Zealand how do we promote excellence and progress in a country that’s nervous about elitism? The tension between excellence and egalitarianism is constant. To be an outstanding business in New Zealand means to out-innovate the rest of the world but it necessitates the most cutting-edge thinking coming out of New Zealand,” Jenner concluded.

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