Island Life by David Slack


I can see clearly now

Hey Mr and Ms Ordinary of Auckland, you wouldn’t think of doing brain surgery without going to medical school would you? Of course not. So why are you piling in on this beautiful new Auckland logo without a design diploma to your names? Listen to the guru. Kevin Roberts thinks it’s so grouse he’s put mags on it.

I know it's not protocol to customize a company's logo, especially when it has just been launched, but I couldn't resist adding a Lovemarks touch to Brand Auckland. Some bloke once said "Lovemarks are not owned by the company but by the people who love them..." and I've taken his message to heart...KR

You really have to hold your breath when you take a trip to KevinWorld. New Zealand is just entirely and wholly exciting because we are, you know, at the edge! Not in a world-is-flat kind of way, because Kevin knows what Earth actually looks like. Round. He spends a lot of time in planes. He has plenty to say about flying in them, much in the manner of the best kind of gentleman who cannot keep from praising his footman.

No, it's not that we’re nearly falling off the edge of some flat Earth; our edgy-ness is more in the sense of Simon Upton’s memorable phrase: the last bus stop on the planet. We’re just so damn remote, it’s thrilling. We make our own fun and we’re going to king-hit this world any day now because you’d better believe that we’re punching way above our weight.

“All new stuff comes from the margins, “ writes Kevin, “So if Wellington is the capital of New Zealand, then Auckland is the capital of the world's edge. This is a great place to be,“ he says. Wait, Kevin, wait! My orientation is failing me. Be at the margin. But go to the capital. But that would be the centre, not the margin, surely? I need to sit down. I’m feeling edgy.

I lack vision. I just write down what comes into my field. First I saw the logo. A day or two later I saw the new Listener cover.

I don’t know about you but I think that picture just pulls it all together. ‘City of Sails’ is surely exclusionary. 60,000 sailors, 130,000 boats, but more than a million people? Minority pursuit at best.

But put those two images together and you have it all: volcanic, hairy Auckland; and everyone scared shitless about the P. You cannot get more edgy than that. Throw in the rural heritage and what do you have? “The hairiest A and P show on Earth”. That fits on a letterhead, easy.

I don’t blame the designers for coming up short on their $300,000 brief. We all have our off days.

Think of an office rubbish bin. Think of a sticky orange cough lolly sitting atop the crumpled paper, wreathed in detritus - lint, fine hairs, chads hanging from...the edge. I wonder if there was such a hairy cough lolly lying in the designer’s wastepaper basket?

You may scoff, but I know what it is to be a creative bankrupt, up against deadline. I was writing a speech one day in the Prime Minister’s Office. I looked out across Parliament grounds to the sun dropping behind the Tinakori hill. It was a hazy, smeared spectacle. I typed: “History is a window through which we can see only dimly”.

Denis Welch had not at this point shown his political hand and so was still permitted to write the Listener’s weekly politics column. A few weeks after I wrote that sentence, he produced a column in the question and answer style, and I have not until this day had the chance to tell him how true he was.

Question: What does the Prime Minister mean when he says: “History is a window through which we see only dimly.”

Answer: The Beehive windows need cleaning.

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