Update - 19 December 2016:

The Weekend Herald published an opinion piece by ATEED Chairman, David McConnell, in print and online on Saturday, 18 December 2016, addressing the misreporting on the Global Auckland/Auckland Story project and clarifying the project was not about creating a new slogan for Auckland.

The article also includes a clarification from the Weekend Herald, which is published below:

The Weekend Herald invited Ateed to write an opinion piece about the global brand project it had been instructed to develop by Auckland Council, after our November 12 story on the issue incorrectly focused on a slogan component of the project. We apologise for that. We are also happy to clarify that the 115 people who worked on the project did not do so full time.

You can read the full article here.

What is the Auckland Story?

The Auckland Plan published in 2012 outlined how a distinctive Auckland story would capitalise on the region’s attributes, help to differentiate Auckland, and enhance its international reputation by providing a coherent value proposition to attract skilled migrants, investors, innovators, visitors, entrepreneurs and events, and the economic growth benefits they bring.

As the region’s economic growth agency and the organisation responsible for delivering a number of key priorities in the Auckland Plan and complementary Economic Development Strategy, ATEED was mandated to carry out this work.

This work has been directly referenced in previous and current ATEED Statements of Intent, most recently approved by the CCO Governance and Monitoring Committee on 2 July 2016. Through the 2016-19 SOI, Council has instructed ATEED to:

“Lead the development of a global brand proposition for Auckland that capitalises on Auckland’s Māori identity as a point of difference in the world. Work with partners to promote the Auckland identity and brand story consistently and seamlessly across all activity in domestic and international markets in a way that leverages our distinct advantages.  Benchmark and validate brand awareness and traction.”

As a result of this directive, ATEED embarked on the development of the Auckland Story – initially given a working title of Global Auckland. The development of the Auckland Story is designed to complement central government’s ‘New Zealand Story’, which is used by MFAT and NZTE for New Zealand businesses, agencies, individuals and organisations looking to reach out to the world.

As New Zealand’s only international city, ATEED has been looking to articulate what makes Auckland unique on a global level so that the public and private sector are able to promote Auckland’s story consistently and seamlessly across all business and tourism activity in a way that leverages the region’s distinct advantages; it’s about how Auckland pitches itself to the world.

Who was involved?

In order to define a modern global identity and story for the Auckland region ATEED engaged a broad group of public and private sector stakeholders. ATEED identified stakeholders with a vested interest in Auckland’s long-term growth and prosperity and they were invited to take part in the initial research phase of the Global Auckland project in April 2015. These included the Mayor and all Councillors.

In total, the views of approximately 55,000 people were captured during the discovery phase of the project by way of face-to-face meetings, extensive surveys which attracted nearly 5,000 responses, and a social media engagement campaign which had nearly 50,000 engagements.

What was created?

A result of this research has been the development of a draft, long-form Auckland Story which ATEED planned on sharing with stakeholders when a set of working documents was leaked to the media in November 2016, with some outlets incorrectly reporting the project.

Clarification of inaccuracies reported in the media:

  1. At no time has this project been about developing a new logo or slogan for the city. This point has been made clear to the media who have continually overlooked this key detail. Those elements are potentially just a small part of what makes up a regional identity which resonates with international audiences such as potential investors, skilled migrants, businesses, high-value visitors and fee-paying students. A new slogan or logo has not been central to this work.
  2. The translation of Tamaki Makaurau was considered the best distillation – in draft – of what this place meant to the original inhabitants, and it also resonates with the feedback from the 55,000 people. It is not a final position but an underlying theme that emerged throughout the discovery phase.
  3. ATEED does not have 115 people working on this project. The internal project team comprises three people. It is disingenuous to claim that Council staff who attended a one hour brainstorming session are working on the project.
  4. ATEED has regularly reported progress on this project to the governing body through the quarterly reporting process and in our Annual Reports 2014-15 and 2015-16. For example, ATEED noted in its Q4 2014-15 report that $101,000 had been spent to that point on phase 1 of the project, and has included updates on the other project milestones and progress.


Close to $500,000 has been spent on development of the draft Auckland Story over a two year period. The research activity, including the establishment of the LoveAKL social media campaign, and the benchmark international research, amounted to approximately $390,000.

The remaining $110,000 was used to develop the draft narrative and accompanying communications, including the build of a micro-website to enable the private sector and other stakeholders to access the information, and provide feedback.

ATEED believes that the costs incurred are reasonable given the large scope of this work and the need to engage a wide range of Aucklanders and stakeholders in this work. This compares favourably to the $2 million that was spent by central government developing the ‘New Zealand Story’, and amounts expended by other cities on similar activity.

ATEED understands the sensitivity around projects like this, and the associated spending. Therefore the expenditure has regularly been reported in our ATEED Board reports, to ensure transparency and accountability, appropriate to SOI priorities agreed by Council and ATEED.