Let’s put the pure back in New Zealand

by Tracy Brighten  August 2013

A Massey University Speech Writing assignment. Please skip to ‘Speech’ if you don’t need the background.


Margaret Thatcher is invited to speak at the imagined 2013 Massey Student Conference on Sustainability where students and staff present papers to discuss new ideas, research and critical issues on sustainability. Her topic is the discrepancy between the clean, green image created by the ‘100% Pure New Zealand’ campaign and the environmental reality. The purpose is to inform the audience of this discrepancy; to persuade them that it is economically damaging as well as morally and aesthetically unacceptable; and to motivate them to take action. The audience will be university lecturers, students and parents with a mix in age, gender and nationality. Mrs Thatcher would like the audience to feel affirmation, enlightenment, surprise, or shock even at her examples of environmental neglect. She wishes to tap into their pride in their country, respect for nature and self-respect as conscientious individuals and motivate them to find out how they can help. As a scientist and politician she will suggest the importance of commerce, government and environmental groups working together to give substance to the ‘100% Pure’ mantra.

In ‘The Lady’s not for turning’ speech,[i] Mrs Thatcher uses appropriate and subtle humour: “The peer that reaches those foreign parts that other peers cannot reach”, a play on the Heineken slogan. She regularly uses triads, “I do care about the future of free enterprise, the jobs and exports it provides and the independence it brings to our people” and alliteration, “dithered for decades”, to enhance rhythm. To make the message indelible and persuasive she uses anaphora, “You can…”; antithesis, “they must look into the hearts and minds of the people whom they seek to govern. I would add that those who seek to govern must in turn be willing to allow their hearts and minds to lie open to the people”; rhetorical questions, “what can stop us from achieving this?”, as well as metaphor, “economic religion which demands this unemployment as part of its ritual?” In her speech to the United Nations she uses statistics, more frequently used by men, to give scientific evidence.[ii] I would like to write a speech that reflects her style.

Mrs Thatcher speaks with a slow pace and clear diction that helps comprehension. The danger is that the slow pace, although authoritative, can be soporific. For example in her speech to the United Nations in 1989 there is no audience response, although the speech is more concerned with informing and persuading than calling to action. The silence may be audience etiquette. Her speeches at Conservative party conferences and in parliament are more lively with changes in tone, pace, emphasis and emotion. Cast as the “Iron Lady”, she isn’t restricted to feminine language, but can mix masculine and feminine words, sounds and imagery, as well as sentiments of toughness with those of empathy. She does not appear to use contractions and her rate of speech in the two speeches analysed is 120 to 140 words per minute.


Good morning lecturers, students and parents. It’s with great pleasure that I’ve taken time from my schedule of bungee jumping and white water rafting to speak to you at this Student Conference on Sustainability. Many of you here today weren’t even born when I was Prime Minister of Great Britain, but I’m rather hoping that you will have heard of me. You may not have heard that I was a scientist before I was ever a politician and the environment is close to my heart. When I addressed the United Nations in 1989, I warned that climate change was a global issue that all nations must confront. Today, with sustainability on the lips of economists and environmentalists alike, I will discuss the discrepancy between the airbrushed ‘100% Pure New Zealand’ campaign and the environmental reality.

In 1999, the New Zealand Tourist Board launched ‘100% Pure New Zealand’, since hailed as a highly successful global marketing campaign. Responding to the question “Who in the world cares about New Zealand?”, the Tourist Board promotes a desirable experience that reflects the country’s purity.[iii] But is this simply empty rhetoric?

For those living in New Zealand, the campaign images of pristine scenery and prolific wildlife don’t stack up against images far from pure: freshwater fish floating in polluted rivers; Northland Kiwis slain by dogs on the loose[iv]; forty Yellow eyed penguins found dead[v]; Hectors dolphins suffocated by set nets[vi]; albatross chicks starved to death, their stomachs clogged with plastics washed up on beaches[vii]; the golf complex threatening the last nesting site of the NZ Fairy Tern, perched on the brink of extinction[viii]; the monorail that would cut through world heritage wilderness carrying yet more tourists to Milford Sound[ix] and China condemning Fonterra’s contamination crisis. The world is waking up to reality – species decline, habitat loss and food scares are out of kilter with the ‘Pure’ campaign. The question we should be asking is “Who in New Zealand cares about New Zealand?”

Environmental experts say New Zealand can’t continue to fool the world when biodiversity, beaches and rivers are in declining state.[x] Indeed, river quality is significantly degraded by dairy farm effluent and fertiliser runoff with no controls in place.[xi] As science links antibiotic resistance in humans to antibiotic use in farm animals, there’s a global need to clamp down on overuse in agriculture, as well as medicine.[xii] Turning a blind eye could see an apocalyptic scenario where surgical patients die from minor infections[xiii] as resistance grows faster than we create new antibiotics. With intensive farming methods the norm, how clean and green are dairy, poultry and pig farms? Yet we know good hygiene, husbandry and housing eliminate the need for routine use of antibiotics in animal feed. In a global marketplace we face a new challenge that rivals climate change, yet commercial interests continue to control policy.

I disagree with The Right Honourable Mr Key that the ‘100% Pure’ campaign should be taken with a pinch of salt. This smacks of ‘fast food’ mentality, style over substance. But with annual dairy exports to China at $3 billion dollars and eco-tourism vital to the New Zealand economy – I’m told a breeding pair of yellow-eyed penguins could be worth $60,000 to Dunedin[xiv] – the campaign must be taken with a large dose of responsibility. How much of the wealth generated by this campaign is re-invested in conservation? And how much consideration is given to environmental concerns when they conflict with economic interests? A healthy environment benefits a nation’s economy, but let’s not forget that a nation’s economy must support that healthy environment.

It’s time not just to showcase New Zealand, but time to show New Zealand’s purity inside out. Time to show it’s not just pure marketing genius, but the pure in unspoilt and in truth. Change is needed in national attitude, change to shake off the shackles of ignorance, of complacency. You have this marvellous, marvellous country and the opportunity to do things your way. With your contained geographical location and your manageable population, you can be an example to other countries – and what an example you could be. Massey community – with your intellect and your conviction you are ideally placed to lead that change. As well as leaders in business, let’s be guardians of our landscape, custodians of our wildlife. Let’s protect the planet for generations. Let’s put the pure back in New Zealand.

Speech word count excluding references: 733


Listening to Ravel’s Bolero[xv] for inspiration, the continuous tempo of the snare drum holds attention. This rhythm is overlaid with serene wind and string melodies, in my mind reflecting pristine landscapes and endangered species, contrasting with sombre, sinister brass melodies, reflecting environmental crises. The piece starts softly building to a loud finale involving most instruments. I hope to build audience awareness and response with each melodic change representing a new paragraph and as more instruments are added, so more weight is added to the argument. I would like the conclusion to reflect the uplifting and stirring finale.

The speech is organised in a logical topical order with an introduction that opens with light humour to break the ice, influenced by Stephen Fry’s BAFTA award opening. A brief reference to Mrs Thatcher’s background establishes credibility and respect and the topic, or thesis, is made clear. The first body paragraph defines the campaign’s origin and questions its truth. The second provides images that contradict this pure image and then turns the NZTB around to ask rhetorically if New Zealanders care about their environment. The third body paragraph informs of experts who do care then opens up to a global view, highlighting the relationship between commerce and government and linking to the fourth that considers John Key’s topical comment about the campaign, intending to persuade of the reciprocity of economy and environment. The conclusion aims to create urgency and to motivate by stirring emotions of pride and responsibility.

I have written with Mrs Thatcher’s voice and position as economist and environmentalist in mind. I have used alliteration to help the rhythm, and anaphora to re-inforce the message and ideas, particularly in the final paragraph with “time to”, “change” and the triad, “Let us”. I used anadiplosis, “A healthy environment benefits a nation’s economy…” to emulate Mrs Thatcher’s “Without a healthy economy”.[xvi] I used parallelism, “should be taken with a pinch of salt….must be taken with a very large dose of responsibility” to convey the seriousness of the topic.   I have tried to use imagery to maximise emotional impact with “airbrushed” questioning the slogan’s truth and “perched on the brink of extinction”, conveying not only that the nesting site is at risk but the species itself. I like the powerful effect of ABBA reversal and could perhaps have worked it into the conclusion, but decided on a power phrase that I hope will be memorable.

The last line of the speech is the power phrase, inviting and inspiring the audience to take action, and playing on Mrs Thatcher putting the ‘Great’ back in Great Britain.[xvii] I am relying on audience open-mindedness about Margaret Thatcher discussing New Zealand affairs. As most will not have lived through some of her more controversial economic and foreign policies, I hope they will value her opinion and identify with a leader who is strongly patriotic and who cares about the environment. I am aware that the speech is a little longer than the 700 words that Mrs Thatcher might deliver in five minutes based on two speeches that I have timed, but I was inspired by her speeches as well as this topical subject.


[i] Thatcher, Margaret. (1980, October). Speech to Conservative Party Conference (‘the lady’s not for turning’).  Retrieved August 26, 2013, from http://www.margaretthatcher.org/speeches/displaydocument.asp?docid=104431

[ii] Thatcher, Margaret. (1989, November). Speech to United Nations General Assembly (Global Environment). Retrieved August 26, 2013, from http://www.margaretthatcher.org/document/107817

[iii] Tourism New Zealand. (2009). Pure As. Celebrating 10 years of 100% Pure New Zealand. Retrieved August 26, 2013, from http://www.tourismnewzealand.com/media/106877/10%20year%20anniversary%20of%20100%20%20pure%20new%20zealand%20campaign%20-%20pure%20as%20magazine.pdf

[iv] Donnell, Haydn. (2012, February). Dogs blamed for mass kiwi deaths. August 30, 2013, from http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10785657

[v] Daly, Michael. (2013, February). Unknown cause for mass penguin deaths. Retrieved August 30, 2013, from http://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/8292911/Unknown-cause-for-mass-penguin-deaths

[vi] Forest and Bird. (n.d.). Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins. Retrieved September 2, 2013, from http://www.forestandbird.org.nz/saveourdolphins

[vii] Schiller, Jakob. (2012, August). Plastic-Filled Albatrosses Are Pollution Canaries in New Doc. Retrieved September 2, 2013, from http://www.wired.com/rawfile/2012/08/albatross-midway-chris-jordan/

[viii] Te Arai Beach Preservation Society. (n.d.). What is this all about? Retrieved September 2, 2013, from http://www.tearai.org/proposed.htm

[ix] University of Canterbury. (2013, July). Monorail proposal conflicts with NZ tourism brand. Retrieved September 2, 2013, from http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/AK1307/S00540/monorail-proposal-conflicts-with-nz-tourism-brand.htm

[x] APNZ. (2013, August). Advertising watchdog defends 100% pure catchphrase. Retrieved August 30, 2013, from http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11115218

[xi] Field, Michael. (2013, August). New Zealand’s 100% Pure campaign rubbished by UK press. Retrieved August 30, 2013, from http://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/9023731/NZs-100-Pure-claim-rubbished-by-UK-press

[xii] World Poultry. (2013, June). Antibiotic use to take priority at G8 summit. Retrieved August 26, 2013, from http://www.worldpoultry.net/Broilers/Health/2013/6/Antibiotic-use-to-take-priority-at-G8-summit-1282634W/

[xiii] Mc Carthy, Michael. (2013, March). Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies: resistance to Antibiotics risks health ‘catastrophe’ to rank with terrorism and climate change. Retrieved August 26, 2013, from http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/chief-medical-officer-dame-sally-davies-resistance-to-antibiotics-risks-health-catastrophe-to-rank-with-terrorism-and-climate-change-8528442.html

[xiv] Yellow Eyed Penguin Trust. (n.d.). Value to the economy. Retrieved August 30, 2013, from http://www.yellow-eyedpenguin.org.nz/penguins/value-to-the-economy

[xv] Ravel, Maurice. (1928, November). Bolero. Conducted by Andre Rieu July, 2008. Retrieved September 2, 2013, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-4J5j74VPw

[xvi] Thatcher, Margaret. (1980, October). Speech to Conservative Party Conference (‘the lady’s not for turning’). Retrieved August 26, 2013, from http://www.margaretthatcher.org/speeches/displaydocument.asp?docid=104431

[xvii] Kelly, Jack. (2013, April). Thatcher Put the “Great” Back in Great Britain. Retrieved August 26, 2013, from http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2013/04/14/thatcher_put_the_great_back_in_great_britain_117941.html

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About Tracy Brighten

With her passion for nature, health and sustainability, Tracy writes creative content that connects with readers. She helps tell people's stories, build brands and grow businesses. Thrives on words, birds and enthusiasm. For hire at www.tracybrightenwriter.com.