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South Waikato District rebrand will reflect diverse Pasifika community

 South Waikato District Council will rebrand next month. The refurbished district-wide brand will reflect its diverse cultural identity. Photo: Polynesia.com
South Waikato District Council will rebrand next month. The refurbished district-wide brand will reflect its diverse cultural identity. Photo: Polynesia.com
Local Democracy Reporting | Free Public Interest News Service

South Waikato District Council is rebranding its region to attract more visitors and investors, and the refurbished identity is expected to reflect its Pasifika community.

Council staff confirmed final iterations of the designs are being wrapped up by the project’s Stakeholder Reference Group, with an expected launch next month.

Local Democracy Reporting understands a specific colour palette and text reflecting South Waikato’s Pasifika cultures will feature in the rebrand.

The region is home to a population of 24,042, 35% identifying as Māori and 12% Pasifika. Council’s Head of Economic Development Paul Bowden says one of the drivers behind the rebrand is to be more attractive to potential visitors and investors.

“The Council’s Long Term Plan boldly sets out a strategy of proactively supporting economic growth,” he said.

“That requires a strong district and town identity to attract investors, [and] new residents and visitors to the district. Our intention is that our new district identity will support our strategic growth objectives.”

According to Council staff, the project is expected to cost upwards of half a million dollars with an allocated budget of $457,000, and is split between two phases.

The first phase budget is $138,000 for project management, community consultation, and research and brand design. The second phase includes the physical costs of new signs, sign replacement and installation at $319,000.The consultation phase engaged communities across the district and with groups in Tokoroa, Putāruru, Tirau and Arapuni, as well as with iwi and the Pacific Island community.

It also involved conversations with external stakeholders – people with expertise in place making, entrepreneurs and economists.

“What we can say with great certainty is that the profusion/confusion of signs we currently have does nothing to create a cohesive identity for the towns and the district of South Waikato and promote the district well,” Bowden says.

“Most outsiders do not know where South Waikato is or what its towns are. This town and district rebrand is part of a broad strategy to invest in the district, including the award-winning redesign of Tokoroa’s Leith Place, to make the district better known and more presentable and attractive to investors and potential residents.”

With an expected launch in June, the brand design concepts are being developed by Hawke’s Bay brand strategist Sven Baker, of Sven & Friends.

“There was no one in South Waikato seen by SWDC to have this specialist level of experience or expertise. Brand design is a specialised field of professional expertise and we have chosen to use and trust experienced professional experts. This is not about creating a logo and a tagline – but rather a bold and unique concept that starts a conversation.”

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