Indigenous-Washing and Colonial Amnesia: How New Zealand’s Nation Brand Depoliticizes Climate Change

Olli Hellmann


New Zealand’s nation brand has drawn ever louder accusations of “greenwashing” the country’s image in recent years. Through a visual discourse analysis of Air New Zealand’s Tiaki & The Guardians safety briefing video, this article shows that brand managers have responded with a strategy of “Indigenous-washing,” appropriating the Māori worldview to deflect attention from intensive farming’s carbon footprint and other environmentally unfriendly activities. More broadly, this article makes an important contribution to the growing critical-cultural literature on nation branding by revealing how New Zealand’s latest marketing initiative contributes to the depoliticization of climate change. The “Tiaki” campaign not only positions New Zealand as an “untouched land,” but also closes the space for democratic debate about climate change by obscuring the role of colonialism in causing the planet’s ecological crisis and by silencing alternative socioecological futures proposed by Indigenous peoples.


nation branding, climate change, colonialism, Indigenous perspectives, de/politicization, New Zealand

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