Knowing our place

There have been times in the development of Idealog when I have been a little concerned that we might err into vacuous jingoism, cooing over anything kiwi. Assigning false value for little more reason than that it was made here in New Zealand.

But as the months have passed and the stories have been filed I have been delighted by the scope of kiwi talent our editorial team has uncovered. As a small country the degrees of separation are short and it seems that everybody knows somebody doing something new. I have sent copies to friends and colleagues around the world.  None have expressed any concern that we seem provincial or parochial either.

Sometimes the endeavours have been strange. I will never forget meeting George Nuku, the maori carver, labouring to complete a plexiglass meeting house to ship to a university in England. The endeavour had a nobility entirely belied by the humility of the space used to create the work–a basement garage in Glenfield.  Nuku’s eloquent and intensely felt description of the act of creation will remain with me.

So will meeting Jason van Gent. The nut guy. I was riveted by his invention, particularly its simplicity. It was the dramatisation of the ’better mousetrap’ of folklore. The guy is a floor tiler by trade. There is definitely something going on here.

I have also been spending time in high schools talking to kids about choosing their future careers and have been struck by the sense of certainty that things will turn out exceptionally well, no matter what. Given that optimism is a precondition for creativity and innovation I am encouraged. It feels like standing beside the springs that become the tributories to the creative economy.

On the subject of New Zealandness and creativity I discovered a wonderful clip. I hadn’t seen it before. It is in the great kiwi tradition of creating ensemble commercials using iconic talent. I am not even certain of the purpose of the clip or where it was aired, but I enjoyed it and the celebration of talent. I think we are definitely developing a sense of national self that is really only very recent. A cool fusion, …like the scrappy mongrel at the pound with character no purebred can possibly have.

If anyone can share the provenance of the piece, I’d love to hear it.


Idealog has been covering the most interesting people, businesses and issues from the fields of innovation, design, technology and urban development for over 12 years. And we're asking for your support so we can keep telling those stories, inspire more entrepreneurs to start their own businesses and keep pushing New Zealand forward. Give over $5 a month and you will not only be supporting New Zealand innovation, but you’ll also receive a print subscription, an Idealog t-shirt and a copy of the new book by David Downs and Dr. Michelle Dickinson, No. 8 Recharged (while stocks last).