While attending a wedding in London, John Key was interviewed for the BBC’s Hardtalk program by reporter Stephen Sackur.

I encourage you to watch the interview, which comes in Part 1 and Part 2.

About eleven minutes into the first segment, then continuing into the second segment, Sackur challenges Key on the “clean, green” image of New Zealand, largely relying on criticisms lodged by Massey University ecologist Mike Joy.

I find two things noteworthy about this interview.

First, the fragility of NZ’s ‘clean, green’ image. If this ‘brand’ is squandered, it will be a long, expensive fall for NZ exporters, especially those marketing agricultural products. The National Government seems to be either careless or clueless about this risk, judging from a wide range of environmental mis-steps under the Key regime, most recently its fresh water non-strategy.

Second, the challenging style of the interviewer, Stephen Sackur. He was extremely well-prepared, relentless in his prodding, and fearless in pushing back against Key’s bromides. New Zealand journalism could use a few dozen Stephen Sackur’s!

John Key might shine in a spoof with an Aussie comedian (I thought he was great, although the video did nothing to sell Napier), but he’s not yet a match for a big league journalist.

Tom Belford

Join the Conversation


  1. Maybe tourism NZ could do something with 57% pure (or whatever National estimates the current figure to be).

  2. Branding exercises can turn around and bite you, what a surprise. Obviously 'Clean, Green' and '100% Pure' are aspirational – the question which should have been asked is how serious is the government in making the country cleaner, greener, and closer to 100% pure. The answer – not very.

  3. Calling Dr Mike Joy an academic, who are like lawyers, where you can always find an opposite opinion, was very revealing of the way Key thinks.

    Joy is a scientist, and has simply said that the evidence shows NZ's species extinction rate and pollution levels are deteriorating. Fact.

    Instead of acknowledging the facts, Key attacks the man, in order to protect the brand, '100% pure.'

    For Key it's the brand that counts not the substance.

    It's all about image with Key.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.