As a foil to the recent somewhat heated discussion about whether or not it is appropriate to actually make things in this country anymore, I invite you to read this article.

I like to shop at farmers markets, I drink wine made from grapes grown a few kilometres from my home and yes, sometime I like to wear clothes made by people that I can visit and talk to.

Call me old fashioned you may…….

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

  • You’re old-fashioned, Ben, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing :O)

    Most people go for cheap plonk from wherever and clothes made in China if they even have a country of origin on display.

    My wife asked me to buy some maple syrup the other day. I found quite a few brands, so I was looking at contents. One had a big red maple-leaf on the front with very small letters underneath: “Made in Australia”. The ingredients part said: “Ingredients: maple syrup”. It was the only one – all the rest listed contents. When I asked the supervisor what the ingredient “maply syrup” was, she said it was something I should consider putting on pancakes.

  • Ben, I take it you refer to the exchange between us on the weekend about manufacturing. Ny views aren’t hot and and my intention was not to aggravate you. I’m sorry if you felt friction. I am open to having my opinions changed when I am presented with information that makes sense – even if it is opposite to what I thought yesterday (“…A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds” RW Emerson).

    Here’s some thing to think about.
    The gap between wealthy and poor in new zealand seems to be widening. The middle classes and very wealthy might have more to spend (maybe not from the dividends from their investment in Xero 😉 ) but the machinists have less. So they buy cheaply imported goods from the Warehouse and the 2 dollar shop (the saviour of mums and dads whose kids have loads of friends and ipso birthday parties).

    Country of origin is a spurious argument.

    I worked on the original Buy New Zealand Made campaign when I was creative director of Y&R in 1991. I know it doesn’t work. All of the research told us so. Kiwis won’t pay more for a New Zealand made product if it is inferior.

    “Look at all those proud kiwis buying kiwi made…”


    Ben, your product might be brilliant (is there an outlet I can see some?) but the experience in NZ hasn’t necessarily been good.

    The Muldoonist policy of giving your mates import licenses and controlling the availability of products. The result was protected industry – i.e. make any old rubbish because there’s no competition – monopoly/oligopoly. When Labour corrected the deformity in our economy in ’84 the floodgates opened like the lid on Pandoras box or Adam biting the apple.

    We cant go back.

    We live and work in the world. All I am saying is: find a market and serve it well. Use what ever tools are available to you. Let go of political dogma (there is no left and right – too black and white – things happen in real time now).

    There’s no point moaning that kiwis won’t buy your brilliant products if they cant affort them.

    And then there is the global decency effect.…if I saw a garment made by workers in Iraq – I’d buy it in a flash. We sometimes send messages by consumption (I haven’t bought Subway since their PR fiasco).

    I feel a thesis coming on…The meaning of consumption/consumption / as social activism…

  • David – no problem – I’m enjoying the friction – it’s intellectually challenging and I’m open to having my views changed as well.

    I entirely agree that badly made NZ made product is a bad outcome for all. I’m a proponent of quality NZ made product where we can compete in some way other than price. I too struggle with the vagaries of the Lorenz curve and the fact that our talking does nothing to help a family in Mangere or Aranui afford NZ made product – this in some ways however is irrelevant. As a sot of similar analogy – making energy from algae or waves isn’t currently economically viable however research needs to occur so we’re ready when it is. My passion (however naive as it may be) is to help NZ shoot up the OECD rankings and become the “Switzerland of the South” where people (all people or at least most) will be able to make consumptive decisions based on something other than price – to this end I’m prepared to continue making a product that is only attainable by a small proportion of the population because I believe that attainability will increase with time.

    I agree with your contention that there is an interesting thesis possible – and also remind you that it’s businesses like mine that enable social activism (at least in one direction) to occur.

    Thanks for the dialogue – stretching as always!

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