Story: City boosters and promoters

Since colonisation New Zealand’s towns and cities have been promoted by individuals and organisations to encourage progress, economic development and tourism. Pamphlets, speeches, slogans and iconic buildings have all been used by councils and other groups to make their home town more enticing.

Story by Kerryn Pollock
Main image: City slogans and logos

Story summary

All images & media in this story

What are boosters?

Boosters were people or organisations that promoted their town, city or region to:

  • attract and keep residents, businesses and industries
  • encourage investment
  • encourage tourists.

Modern boosters are economic development agencies, marketers and property developers.

Booster groups and organisations

Voluntary groups included:

  • progress leagues, which wanted to encourage development
  • population clubs, which worked to increase the populations of their towns
  • beautifying societies, which tried to make towns more attractive, often by planting trees and flowers.

There were also chambers of commerce and economic development agencies that promoted businesses and gave them advice.


Big events can bring money into the towns and cities where they are held, because visitors will need somewhere to stay, and will visit restaurants and shops. Some large events include:

  • America’s Cup Regatta in Auckland
  • World Buskers Festival in Christchurch
  • New Zealand International Arts Festival in Wellington.

City branding

To promote themselves, some towns and cities adopt slogans. One of the best-known is Wellington’s ‘Absolutely Positively Wellington’. Other slogans have been less successful, such as ‘Hamilton – more than you expect’, which has been dropped by the city.


New and large buildings are often seen as a sign of progress. However, places like Napier and Ōamaru promote their historic buildings to encourage tourists. Some cities have iconic buildings, such as the Sky Tower in Auckland and the Beehive in Wellington.

How to cite this page:

Kerryn Pollock, 'City boosters and promoters', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 2 October 2023)

Story by Kerryn Pollock, published 11 Mar 2010