Brian Sweeney on Punk Eek at TEDx Auckland 2013

Brian Sweeney is a long standing global NZ citizen who has been flying the flag for kiwi creativity and energy for many years.

He has been based in New York for for a while now and one of his side projects is been nzedge which is an articulation of the kiwi spirit and our place in the world.

NZedge is also part of New Zealand’s national brand in a much more meta data kind of way that say the purenz ad stories. NZ edge is much more about the people, the mythology of being a kiwi and the energy of kiwis around the world.

I first met Brian when he was president of the national student arts council which was a university thing back in the late 70’s, early 80’s. These days Brian has a communications company called Sweeney Vesty but I knew him as the manager for the Topp Twins and various film project associations in Wellington.

Brian started his talk with an anecdote about Kevin Kelly. Kevin wrote “Out of Control” and uses biology as the narrative driver. Punctuated Equilibrium (punk eek) says changes happens at the edge. The talk is called Nation branding via biological imperative:

Here are 2 sets of data that Brian presented as heat maps.


“heat map is from the field of behavioral economics. This heat map has been developed by a cutting-edge research technology company in Toronto and it is designed to show deep and penetrating insights into market landscapes.

The map has 98 attributes across eight categories. The hotter the colour the greater the emotional resonance and this map is from an international survey of the perceptions of many countries and regions. This is a map of New Zealand and as you can see we have a strong warm positive core with few negatives spilling to the outside of a map. We are perceived as being competent, reliable, easygoing, kind balanced.

Progress however does not come from balance. Progress does not come from the centre.”


“This is a profile of our Pacific neighbour California with its powerhouse economies of Silicon Valley, Hollywood, the Napa Valley. California is where TED came from and as you can see California’s profile is strong and it’s hot… and it exhibits characteristics such as being creative confident, passionate, innovative, a leader.

How can New Zealand be in this space? Clearly from the evidence seen from the stage today there are a great many people who are playing in this space but that is not how we are perceived by the world. How might we get there?”

View the entirety of Brian’s talk below. I love the way it reframes New Zealanders place in the world and gets us past the tall poppy thing.

To me the nzedge metaphor is much more powerful than the purenz concept. We need a better metaphor for New Zealand’s role and place in the world. What do you think?

In the NZEdge world the reframing sees the NZ population as 5m rather than 4, expatriate becomes diaspora and brain drain becomes network and so on…