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Tairawhiti Gisborne — the first light, place of first meetings

23 September 2016, Jeremy Muir, The Gisborne Herald

A key pillar of the campaign being developed to market this region is that it is a place of firsts — principally first meetings and first sun, but there are many other firsts visitors can experience here in our place . . . a fascinating part of the country and world that just has not been on the travel radar for so many New Zealanders and international tourists. 

Some people, chiefly ones running for council, have complained about a lack of public consultation. It would be an interesting exercise for a marketing team to pull together the views of all interested residents — who are not the people they want to market to — into a coherent campaign. It would fail. And while preparatory work for the campaign began over a year ago, led by Activate Tairawhiti and with a steering group of 14 locals, creative work could not begin until ECT committed significant money to it recently.

The first campaign-related billboard has been up this week in a prime position between departure screens at Auckland Airport’s domestic terminal, promoting the Gisborne Wine and Food Weekend. The dominant words are “First Celebration” and below that “The first is always unforgettable”. It is about to go up at Wellington Airport as well.

As Frank Murphy indicates at the end of his letter today, there is huge demand for authentic cultural and heritage experiences and this region has unique, highly marketable stories to tell in this regard. This is why the Navigations Project is so important, to ensure visitors and residents alike can engage easily with the amazing stories of our place. There is also ample opportunity for more operators in this field to help visitors have quality, authentic cultural and heritage experiences.

Using the beautiful Maori name for our region in marketing for the first time has upset some people. They should realise it is not only right to do so, it fits with the essence of the campaign. Of course Gisborne is there just as prominently, as that is the familiar name for our place. It would be uncontroversial to place Gisborne first, then Tairawhiti — but there’s a first time for everything.


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