Vodafone has announced that it will become One NZ in 2023, ditching its signature red branding for a bright green logo.
But what was not so bright about the change is that the name One NZ is also used by a far-right extremist group.
In a racist string of blog posts, the One New Zealand Foundation, claimed that “Māori have been given special rights, privileges, or advantages over other New Zealanders”.
“Their tangata Māori ancestor’s way of life has long gone. This is democracy, we are now all one people, under one flag, and one law,” one post stated.
On LinkedIn, Vodafone’s newly appointed Chief Executive Officer, Jason Paris, stated that they were not aware of the extremist group “or that the word ‘one’ could be deemed racist in any way.”
“It was an oversight as we were genuinely not aware of this.”
“My view is that these fringe groups shouldn’t be able to define what One stands for. Why should they own this word forever?”
Paris said the company is 100% committed to ensuring that One stands for inclusion and diversity.
“Vodafone are a strong ally to Māori, and have numerous examples of this including our commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi.” No examples were given by Paris in this statement.
When some customers questioned Paris why Vodafone did not use te reo in their new name, he said an experienced cultural advisor suggested that mixing English and te reo in a brand wouldn’t be right.
“Although a te reo brand would be a bold move, unfortunately Aotearoa isn’t quite ready for it yet based on the customer research.”
In a tweet, Vodafone boss Jason Paris further defended the name change and said “it was about inclusiveness not division”.
“Ultimately we won’t be judged on the name but the actions we take. That’s our focus.”