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17 January 2010

2010: we're straining at the leash


WHAM did some of its best-ever work for clients in 2009, but we're eager to do even more of it in 2010

2009 was a year in which WHAM did some of its best-ever work for clients, but there wasn't quite as much of it as we would have liked. Client budgets were tight, reflecting the recession. And with the change of government, there was a justifiable reluctance to push issues in the public domain that might be more effectively resolved in a quiet chat with the minister and his or her advisers.


  • The notable policy and legal wins achieved by our longstanding client, the High Country Accord (see below).
  • A phenomenally successful high-intensity campaign to get a city council to change its proposed zoning for a beachfront area from industrial, to something more people-friendly
  • Managing a highly sensitive public issue for a major export industry - a project that's still underway
  • Helping the Forest Owners argue their case for more equitable treatment of plantation forestry in the ETS and under the Kyoto Protocol. This campaign, which we first worked on in 2002, had its successful culmination (or to be more precise, peri-culmination) at the Copenhagen climate change summit
  • Building support among local bodies and other movers and shakers for a proposed increase in the weight and dimensions limits for heavy vehicles in suitable roads and highways.

We also welcomed back to our client list Boffa Miskell, the country's largest planning and landscape design practice, after a hiatus of several years. They're a highly professional outfit with great stories to tell.

In addition, there were some small assignments that really appealed. Organising extensive media coverage for two Waikato farm technology field days for NZ Trade and Enterprise put some mud on our boots - something that doesn't happen often enough these days.  By way of contrast, there was policy intelligence work for companies in the FMCG and agrichemical industries.

The High Country Accord was rewarded for its commitment to the velvet glove of policy advice, lobbying and public relations, backed with the iron fist of legal action. Fish & Game's expensive attempt to get the right for hunters and fishers to wander over high country farms was quashed. The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment accepted the Accord's longstanding argument that high country pastoral farming and environmental covenants provide triple bottom line benefits for NZ Inc. The High Court rolled the previous Government's attempt to revise high country rents to include non-productive values like scenic views. All in six months!

The Accord still has unfinished business establishing a legally watertight basis for future rents but unlike the previous nine years, it now has in David Carter a minister who values private property rights, understands the high country and is not captured by the empty credo that conservation is only possible under state ownership and control.

For WHAM, 2010 will inevitably bring some of the same, as well as much that is new. Some clients have major projects planned which will see us form collaborative teams with other PR professionals, including our colleagues at Morris-PPR.

It's also great to have Angie Fussell back on the consultancy team. Her strategic, management and inter-personal skills give WHAM a backbone that's hard to beat.



- Trevor Walton

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