Finding their wings: Air New Zealand transports precious passengers

For its latest campaign, Air New Zealand helps in the transportation of native New Zealand takahē as part of the Department of Conservation’s recovery programme.

The ad, called ‘Where to next? Helping our precious passengers take flight’ by Exposure and True, tells of the journey that took place in March when 18 takahē were transported from the takahē breeding centre in Te Anau, onto an Air New Zealand flight, and released into the Gouland Downs off the Heaphy Track as part of DOC’s Takahē Recovery Programme.

With a few first-time flier jokes thrown in (the takahē are flightless birds), the spot features pieces to camera with threatened species ambassador for DOC Nicola Toki, DOC ranger supervisor Nichollette Brown, flight attendant Jaimee Beattie, Air New Zealand head of sustainability Lisa Daniell, and iwi representatives Margie Little and John Ward-Holmes, speaking about the importance of the programme and how this is the first time takahē have been released into mainland New Zealand.

It’s a different approach to the airline’s previous ‘Where to next?‘ campaigns that have, since 2015, been transporting New Zealanders around the world to Air New Zealand’s different destinations.

Since this latest video was shared no social media, it’s has received a positive response, with people commenting on how exciting and great the work by Air New Zealand and DOC is. The partnership between the companies launched in April 2012. 

However, not all recent Air New Zealand ads have received such a warm welcome. In March, the company released the ‘World’s Coolest Safety Video’ set in Antarctica starring American actor Adrian Grenier, which simultaneously presented factual information on Antarctica’s ecosystem and Air New Zealand’s role in environmental and scientific research in the region. 

At the time, media took Air New Zealand to task, describing it as grossly insensitive and distasteful for two key issues; no recognition for the 1979 Mt Erebus disaster which killed 257 onboard Air New Zealand flight 901, and presentation of a possible misconception of Antarctica in that it is a viable place for tourists to visit—something not recommended given the fragile environment.

While some may see protecting the environment through air travel counterintuitive, Air New Zealand is not closed-minded in terms of sitting with and working with uncomfortable issues.

Last year, it released its annual Sustainability Report in which it openly admitted its struggles with issues to do with sustainability and gender and for the effort, it took home the Bravest Move of the Year Award at The Stoppies. Talking to StopPress at the end of last year, Air New Zealand’s head of communications Marie Hosking said there is no “shying away from the fact that aviation industry, including Air New Zealand, faces its share of sustainability challenges”.

She said being transparent and honest is essential if the company is to measure our progress and drive change.

“Transparency also sets the foundation for better and stronger collaboration. Challenges such as climate change and regional inequality are complex issues that we can’t solve alone.

“By being honest about our challenges, we open ourselves up to more meaningful partnerships while starting conversations with our people and other stakeholders. Sharing all this publicly makes us even more accountable and drives us to be a company that all New Zealanders can be proud of.”

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