Tourism and economic development

Major new regional marketing campaign launched by Activate Tairawhiti


The first stage of the new website is now live:

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Tairawhiti Gisborne magazine


By Andrew Ashton, The Gisborne Herald, 18 October 2016:

GISBORNE residents have been given a better idea of how a new regional marketing campaign involving Air New Zealand will spend more than $1.1 million of community funds. 

The regional campaign begins in earnest this week and Activate Tairawhiti chief executive Steve Breen said the initiative, which aims to increase tourism spending here by $7m over the next three years, would ensure the region capitalised on the growing tourism sector.

“Securing the long-term prosperity of the region requires us to seize economic growth where it is occurring and at least match the performance of the rest of the country — otherwise we’ll be left progressively further behind.

“Air New Zealand advises that the national visitor market is growing at 12 percent annually. We’re certainly not securing our share of that growth, which translates into jobs, incomes, viable businesses, improved social amenities and a tourism industry that contributes the maximum possible to our local economy.

“Increased visitors maintain our core infrastructure for the benefit of local businesses and residents. The two resources we have that negate our physical isolation are our digital connectivity and our flight services to the national capital, Wellington, and New Zealand’s commercial centre, Auckland.”

More seats available on flights

The campaign was launched after Air NZ announced earlier this year that it would increase passenger capacity on its Gisborne-Wellington route by 70 percent as part of an overall annual passenger volume increase of 40,000 seats on routes from Gisborne to both Wellington and Auckland.

“Our national carrier, internationally recognised for the calibre of its marketing and expertise, is working with us. We need to seize this opportunity with Air New Zealand because it’s an opportunity that simply won’t come around again in a hurry. The market is moving, we need to take advantage of it now or be left behind,” Mr Breen said.

“Maintaining and boosting the Gisborne-Wellington route is the first step on that pathway. There is no middle ground.

“The campaign anchors Tairawhiti, our region, with Gisborne, our capital — combining our rich heritage with commercial endeavour, both of which we’re good at. Let’s be proud of that and tell the world.”

Alongside a $1m grant from Eastland Community Trust, the initiative also has support from Air New Zealand, Gisborne District Council, the Government, Gisborne Chamber of Commerce and The Gisborne Herald.

The customer research, campaign framework and media placement involved in the campaign is led by Roger MacDonnell of MacDonnell and Associates, and Vincent Heeringa, creative/content director of sister company Narrative.

The initial national advertising campaign will focus on discovering and delivering what would motivate people from outside the region to visit.

Once the initial stage was completed, locals would own and drive the initiative going forward.

Local talent involved

Local photographers have already contributed to the first stages, and briefs went out last week for more photography content, as well as copy and video.

In future, social media, website management and development, and communications, will all be run from here. Ongoing conversations will be had with iwi, businesses, tourism operators, event managers and others to inform and expand the campaign.

Confirmed campaign elements include branded billboards in Auckland and Wellington airports, and other selected central city sites around Auckland and Wellington, and a magazine focusing on a series of three-day itineraries around the themes of explore, adventure, culture and indulgence. A pdf download is available on The Gisborne Herald site.

Activate Tairawhiti marketing manager Suzanne Winterflood said the magazine would be published mid-week in the Dominion Post and New Zealand Herald. They have a combined readership of more than 560,000 people. Hard copies would be available for local people and copies would also be distributed to Tourism Eastland members and regional i-Sites.

The first stage website (, which focuses on the itineraries included in the magazine went live on Saturday.

There will also be press advertisements in the New Zealand Herald and Dominion Post, alongside social media and public relations campaigns.

Mr Heeringa said the centrepiece of the overall campaign would be a new website.

“The most important element of this whole campaign will be the region’s new website, which is under construction and due to be live before Christmas.

“This site will act as a digital gateway to the region for anyone who wants to visit, live and do business here. Our experience in working with Tourism NZ and other brands reminds us that digital marketing is critical for reaching consumers.

“Until this is ready, a smaller site will showcase ideas for exciting ways to spend a long weekend in the region, along with an events calendar. This will go live in time for this week’s magazine launch.”

Mr Heeringa pointed out the theory behind the new Tairawhiti Gisborne: The First Light brand.

“During the consumer research, people kept coming back to ‘first light’ as the region’s point of difference. Other places have beaches, lakes and bush, but no other place in New Zealand can claim the number of firsts that the Tairawhiti region can — first to see the sun; first contact on land between Maori and Pakeha; first to grow chardonnay at scale; first to launch satellites (Mahia); one of the very first landing places of the voyaging waka.

First is always best

“The campaign makes use of ‘the first’, and the thought that ‘the first is always unforgettable’, to showcase many different experiences here: first sip, first wave, first taste, first dance and so on.”

Mr MacDonnell said a rapidly-evolving world and an “unprecedented” growth in tourism had left the region at a crossroads.

“We can grasp this new opportunity and strive to bring new prosperity to the region. That’s why the fundamentals of this new campaign are so important. If we are to succeed, we must speak with one voice and have a singular value proposition that is market tested.”

Gisborne Chamber of Commerce president Gavin Murphy said the chamber “fully supported” the well-funded and well thought-out initiative.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to align all the stakeholders around a significant campaign to promote the region, that importantly has actually talked to our customers and potential customers about what they see or would want to see in this region.

“It is time this region realised that defining this region only with our own internal views means we never actually talk to customers, tourists, potential investors and business people about how they view this region and what would make them live, work or play here. Clarity and alignment of our own views is of course important, but we are already here. Primarily we are trying to attract more people here to live, work and play.

“To have developed a campaign based around their needs is an excellent approach. To then have for the first time significant regional funding and a partner in Air New Zealand means that this region must embrace this campaign and get behind it.

“One of the key drivers for this was, of course, ensuring that there were customers coming to the region to underpin the Air New Zealand Wellington-Gisborne route. The fact is Air NZ are withdrawing from non- profitable routes as they view them.

“We must ensure that everything within reason is done to stimulate customers on this route. The spin-off for us is more customers in the region. For us it is also a vital business and economic transport link. It would be extremely inefficient for business travelling to Wellington to have to go via Auckland.

“Let’s stop looking within and remaining fractured as a region, which if we do we will continue to get the comparative lack of growth for business and tourists we have seen over the last 10 years.”

For details of ECT's funding announcement, see here.