I’ve been reading the Flight of the Creative Class – it hasn’t been difficult reading, but it has been somewhat uncomfortable. For years I’ve been uncomfortable about New Zealand’s potential as an economic powerhouse in the future. On a global scale we’re a bit more like an economic outhouse. I just couldn’t see NZ cutting it in the so-called export led recovery. After all, our fish exports don’t consitute more than about 5% of the world fish supplies. There’s only so much butter and dairy products. Trees, yeah. Altogether it’s all about primary products, at commodity prices.
Manufacturing – yeah, right. When was the last time you bought a manufactured product 100% made in NZ? I doubt there’s anything 100% made here anymore – perhaps the kete or two. A muka enhanced paua shell necklace. Not much else. So what’s left? Software? Games? Call centres? Oh yeah, as if. Somehow NZ’s trying to compete on numbers – as if we have more numbers of skilled programmers than say Brazil or India.
So what’s New Zealand – Wellington, specifically, to do? According to my professor of choice, Peter Murphy, a port is a hallmark of city of distinction, throughout time. Ok, Wellington could be the Hong Kong of the New Zealand. According to Richard Florida, the other card Wellington could (and does play) is the creative card. And there’s no doubt Peter Jackson, winner of the Peter Murphy look alike award, has done great work in terms of creating a forum for the development of creativity in Wellington and NZ in general. I know of one film clan who shoot in their garage on weekends. I know a low power radio guy. I know an artist. All here in Wellington. And there are others. And it’s great.
Florida suggests a way forward. If I have interpreted his writing correctly, NZ needs to open its doors to creative individuals, ideally those with investment funds, and entreprenurial aspirations. Well, if it expands the creative vibe here in the capital, bring it on. As for Florida’s book – interesting reading. I can imagine living in other places, but now I’d be interested in rating the creative base as well as the rest of the aspects of any new society being considered.