Cant beat Welly on a good day: EightyOne discuss New Zealand’s creative capital

With its lively cafe culture, quirky opshops, public art works and a mesmerising museum, it’s only fitting that Wellington has been labelled New Zealand’s creative capital.

Home to Te Papa, the national museum and art gallery, Royal NZ Ballet, NZ Symphony Orchestra and several professional theatres, the vibrant city is bursting with all kinds of creativity. Here, we talk to Matt West from EightyOne on what the capital has to offer.

West says when it comes to creativity, Wellington is consistently developing.

“There’s always been a wonderful contradiction that Wellington is a mix of Government and start-ups. You throw everything in one pot and out comes something pretty unique.

“We’re also not known for our endless summers so maybe there’s something in that. Slightly rubbish weather inspires creativity. Think Portland, Manchester, Dublin.”

Within the agency sector, West describes Wellington as ‘less retail’ and more ‘behaviour-change and brand’ in contrast to Auckland. He adds that relationships also tend to last longer in Wellington due to the small size.

“Across Wellington there’s an expectation that creativity flows through every business and isn’t limited to creative agencies. Fix and Fogg is a great example where we’re an add-on to their creative output, not its sole outlet. There’s pockets of excellence everywhere.

“When bigger networks have a crack at Wellington they can be surprised when brands and Government agencies don’t come running. If you’re going to do Wellington you need to play the long game and commit.”

West says there is no real advantage to being a creative agency in Wellington as being successful takes commitment. Being a smaller city in comparison to Auckland, the capital doesn’t have the same scale of opportunities, clients or budgets, however shouldn’t be considered a limitation.

“It just means we have to think a bit harder.”

Although Covid-19 hit many industries hard, West says after speaking with several agencies in Wellington, it seemed like production was able to continue efficiently. As a smaller group, Eightyone was able to be more nimble when it came to the change Covid-19 caused.

“Clem’s did the Covid work and did a great job under crazy pressure. Wrestler did the Police update work and that went down a treat.

“We managed to work with UNESCO in Europe and produce plenty of other work remotely. I think everyone just got on with it and adapted.

Almost every aspect of Wellington includes a dash of creativity, which West says could be even more spectacular if a bridge connecting to the South Island came about, along with better fishing in the harbour and more ride sharing.

“Mevo has been a great introduction to the city.”

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