Saturday, 8 September 2012


Auckland New Zealand: Hated by
a few, loved by many
By Jamie Morton 5:30 AM Saturday Sep 8, 2012 New Zealand Herald

When it comes to the way folk south of Auckland’s Bombay Hills and north of the Brynderwyn Hills see Auckland, the old anti-JAFA (Just Another F****** Aucklander) sentiment is still there.
But a new insight has also shown that many Kiwis - especially among the more initiated - see their biggest city as vibrant and exciting.
The research, which helped Auckland Tourism to plan its new $800,000 domestic campaign and the accompanying tongue-in-cheek, self-deprecating television advert, canvassed the views of 1000 people.
Traffic, crime and "big city arrogance" were among their first thoughts, yet such dislike was most prevalent among people who had seen little of Auckland.
They saw Auckland as congested, unfriendly and expensive, with not much to do - a view at odds with more frequent visitors.
The main reason past visitors didn't recommend Auckland was that other destinations had more to offer.
The findings didn't surprise Jason Hill, acting general manager of Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development, who observed the same stigma around Tokyo among Japanese when he lived there.
"We were well aware there was a certain level of those perceptions about Auckland, but I guess we were comforted by the fact that 'vibrant and exciting' city was right up there, too," he told the Weekend Herald.
The Rugby World Cup had helped open eyes towards Auckland and change negative views, which the campaign sought to tackle "head-on" while also parodying them.
In pitching Auckland as an international city within New Zealand, with beaches, wineries and events on offer, the advert shows a young Kiwi couple in an alien city, complete with air-kissing glamour girls and a waitress in need of interpretation.
"When we've shown people the TV commercial, they've had a bit of a chuckle and in the main people are understanding of why we have taken the approach we have," Mr Hill said.
"I suppose it's having a bit of laugh at those perceptions, but also hopefully proving maybe they aren't as prevalent as people think."
By last night, it had received nearly 4000 hits on YouTube.
Lee Baker, co-author of spoof travel guide Way of the JAFA, thought the approach was clever.
"I notice they don't play too heavily on JAFA cliches in the ad, but I think it's smart to make use of them."
But the stereotype of the latte-sipping, self-centred Aucklander was "hard-wired" into most Kiwis born outside of Auckland, and he doubted this could ever change.
Travelers’ bible Lonely Planet points out how the rest of the country "loves to hate" Auckland, "tut-tutting about its traffic snarls and the supposed self-obsession of the quarter of the country's population that call it home". But it adds: "With its many riches, Auckland can justifiably respond to its detractors: 'Don't hate me because I'm beautiful'."
Many respondents to Auckland Tourism's survey praised the city with one-word descriptions such as awesome, fun, shopping, diverse, dynamic, variety, vibrant and cosmopolitan . . . .
More in the Herald:

Peter’s Comment

Most visitors to New Zealand start their New Zealand experience in Auckland and travel south for their departure. Aucklanders, almost without fail, encourage visitors to see the South Island and extol the beauty of the southern cities, mountains, lakes, glaciers and friendly people.

Unfortunately, visitors starting out in the South Island are often told don’t go to Auckland. Typically, they are told, ‘There is nothing there,’ or ‘There’s too much crime, too many unfriendly people, too much traffic and nothing to do.’

I have lost count of the number of times tourists have told me that Auckland has been the highlight of their New Zealand visit and they wished they had planned to stay longer.

For the benefit of our southern citizens who love to hate Auckland, Auckland with 25% of New Zealand’s population has only 12% of New Zealand’s murders. Auckland also has less than its share of fatal road accidents with just 16% of the national total.

Auckland has the country’s most expensive houses, but that is just a reflection of the fact that so many people think it is the best place to live.