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 I love New Zealand… but!

I am one of New Zealand’s biggest fans.  Along with owning the New Zealand Trade Centre promoting New Zealand exporters to international visitors, I also own Arrival magazine – the country’s largest tourism title picked up by international visitors.

I have a passion for showing off what we make, and what attractions we have for people to see and experience.  One of the things international visitors rave about is the “kiwi way”.  They see Kiwis as so friendly, genuine and laid back. We invite visitors home without hesitation and we still do a lot of business over a beer and handshake.  International visitors develop an emotional attachment to New Zealand based, quite often, on their holiday experience of New Zealand.  They then seem to look for an excuse to do business with New Zealand, not always, but certainly quite often.

Now, while this laid back attitude is a highly enduring quality, there are times when it is just not appropriate; there are times when the serious Kiwi needs to show his face.  This is in the area of customer service.  One of the team members at my café business called me the other day and asked me to pick up a bottle of Charlies juice that was unopened.  In the bottle was a “fruit fly” floating in the fresh juice.  I accept that this can happen, but it’s the initial response from Charlies that has got me wound up.  I called them and explained what I had in my hand.   Their response was, “no worries, we will come and pick it up and bring a replacement bottle”.

Imagine this bottle being handled by a customer in one of our large export markets and the customer taking the bottle to the store owner who contacts the importer, who rings Charlies and gets the “no worries” response.  This just does not cut it if we are to compete on an international stage.

I have had a similar experience with my Ford Territory lately. I got given a combination of reasons why I am having problems with it. They include:  “you must live near the water” (well most Kiwi’s do!), “do you own a boat” (no, I don’t but I would love Graeme Hart’s.), “there must be inherent faults”,  (don’t tell me just fix them – very scary)  and “what did the previous owner do with the car” (no bloody idea actually).  The car is a few years old, and under warranty so what would have done it was to just deliver the service.  That would have kept me a cheerleader for Ford – but it is a bit late now!

At a government level I want our sights set higher.  Being average in the OECD rankings does not inspire, not for the world, let alone New Zealanders.  If it is good enough for us to expect the All Blacks to be first, that is, win the World Cup, then we should expect the government and all New Zealanders to aspire to being Number 1.

I aspire for New Zealand to have the world’s best healthcare system, education, the lowest crime rate; for our children to have the best country in the world to play in; and for our businesses to have the easiest environment to do business in. Anything less than Number 1 is like having the goal of the All Blacks making the semi-finals.

I still love New Zealand …. But we can, and must do better!


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