The isolation of the pandemic years shifted New Zealanders’ Outward World View. Having the boundaries of our world narrowed with closed borders led to deeper connections with our land and communities. Five years ago, we wanted nothing more than to shine on the world stage, but in this round of research we saw that, while external validation is still important, the first step is feeling good about ourselves.
In this round of research, we saw a significant shift in how we seek international attention. While we still enjoy international attention, but the order of priorities has now changed. Kiwis feel we should prioritise our own internal relationships rather than how we stand on the world stage.
While it might be flattering to hear praise about our country on the world stage, and we’re always chuffed our sporting or entertainment heroes get international recognition, this is no longer seen as important as what’s going on at home. New Zealanders are more concerned with bringing attention to problems we have within New Zealand.
There is a strong sense that before we look to fame and international validation, we should focus on helping our own communities. This is reflective of the broader shift to a more communal worldview, brought on by COVID. The “good PR” we get from Taika Waititi, Ruby Tui, former PM Jacinda Ardern and other Kiwis is still welcomed, and our connection with the outside world hasn’t gotten weaker – it’s just seen as less important.
“Being younger I would have been happier about the international recognition but now I don’t necessarily care.”
Māori are rooted firmly in Te Ao Māori and seek even less external validation.
“What matters is the here and now - whether people can afford to buy their kai for the week.”
The lessening in the importance of international approval appears to stem from a new sense of groundedness we’re experiencing as a nation. Where once there was insecurity salved by international media mentions, now we’re seeing a quiet confidence come to the fore.
We still feel that sense of being the underdog and a sense of pride when New Zealand succeeds on the world stage, for example when brands like Rocket Lab that punch above their weight. We still like to think our voice is loud for our size, and we still want external recognition.
However, where that desire once stemmed from insecurity, now it comes from inner confidence. We know we’re great, and we’d like the world to see it – we no longer need to look to the world to see our success reflected back at us.
When it comes to brands, we have seen the shift in this cultural code in the change of attitudes toward local products.
Where once New Zealanders saw foreign products as being higher in quality, now there is pride in homegrown products.
We see this showing up in the work of brands like Whittakers, who has successfully heroed local ingredients and produced blocks of chocolate that are more premium than the standard range.
Bremworth rebranded with a more local focus, celebrating that from 2020 it would no longer be using synthetic materials to produce its rugs and would opt for New Zealand wool and production instead.
We can also see brands that are moving away from the image of local brands as being humble and low-key, to instead embracing slicker images that are resonant of world-leading organisations.
However, these brands and their images remain strongly rooted in supporting New Zealand businesses, people and communities. Kiwibank’s change in brand image, from humdrum to glossy, loud and proud also reflects the increased pride in local.