Half Centenary Celebrations

Case Study

Tourism Rotorua


Once the cream of The South Pacific's tourist destinations, and in the early stages of the 20th Century, renowned world-wide for it's spectacular geothermal and cultural attractions. But by the 1980's, general apathy, local operator politics and increasing pressure from emerging global and local destinations had placed the future of Rotorua as New Zealand's premier tourist destination under threat.


Only a handful of local operators maintained the once proud traditions and quality of this area. Whereas the general perception of the region, from a tourists point of view, was that of a jaded, cultural wasteland with a few bubbling mud pools.

The community recognised this and from 1990 had worked hard to rebuild the central city to be more palatable and encourage local business to catch-up with global standards and expectations. By 1997 much of this work was completed and the city had transformed itself to become far more cosmopolitan and vibrant, but Rotorua still suffered from the effects of a much maligned identity.


Having conducted extensive research, Tourism Rotorua employed David Craggs (Now head of IQON Design - division of Graphic Design Council) to devise a brand image which could effectively unite and promote the area. A difficult task as the brand had to represent not only the tourist industry but also a local community with sensitive cultural issues, further research was required and in depth discussions with local iwi was mandatory.

David worked extensively, over a six month period, with core tourism committees, comprised of local historians, operators and council representatives, to explore and define routes that would appeal to all factions.

The results speak for themselves, an Identity that combines the bi­cultural identity by blending a typeface representative of the halcyon era of European settlement with the Takarangi, a symbol produced in collaboration with local carver, Lionel Grant, which represents local Maori involvement and ownership. Combined with a positioning statement that has demonstrated to cross all boundaries, feel the spirit — both a challenge and invitation,

  • Feel the spirit of Maori culture.

  • Feel the sprit of our planets' geothermal forces. Feel the spirit of action adventure.

  • Feel the sprit of our local community.

Local iwi also contributed a true bi-cultural statement, manaakitanga, a simple statement that acts as a welcome and guarantee to all guests that they are respected and will be catered for without reserve, this idea extends even to preservation and protection of the environment to make the promise come alive (surely one of the shortest but most powerful mission statements ever).

The David brand strategy and identity process was so thorough that, after public presentation of the launch, response was reported at 98% acceptance by business and community, of course there were some detractors, but the arguments put up by individuals only served to strengthen the rationale behind the brand.

Although there is always budget restraints with this sort of work David the view that this brand is not short term but will form the basis of Rotorua's identity to well into the next millennium, already a change in attitude has been reported which is gaining strength to return Rotorua to the pinnacle of the South Pacific's tourist destinations.

At last report, the brand has won several marketing awards — a satisfying result for a complex project.

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