Hamilton's reputation a worry?

The city's reputation mightn't be what the council wants, but it isn't likely to be a key factor for anyone choosing whether to live there.

You don't have to look hard to find a joke about Hamilton.

Its detractors tell everyone it's the chlamydia capital (it's actually lost that title).  Or they think it's full of bogans.

Recently a Lotto player from the city won $1 million - one comment on the article reads "rather win nothing and not live in Hamilton".

The city does have high-profile supporters, though, including radio/TV personality and comedian Jesse Mulligan, Welsh referee Nigel Owens, and TV architect George Clarke, of Amazing Spaces fame.

"If that's your worst place to see in New Zealand, you're doing pretty well," Clarke said in 2016.

Yet Hamilton City Council puts the reputation of the Tron in its top eight risks to keep an eye on, nestled among cyber attacks and health and safety.

That's earned a few comments from councillors at recent audit and risk committee meetings.

"Many people are actually Hamilton detractors who live here," Councillor Dave Macpherson said on Tuesday.

"It's almost like a cultural cringe."  Councillor Garry Mallett's on record as saying he can't see how this is council's problem.

If some celebrity says the city's boring, council "can't give a rat's arse", he said - its job is to provide the basics, such as sewerage systems, pipes, and roads.

Reputation might get moved off the register in an upcoming review, general manager for strategy and communication Sean Hickey told said.

That's because staff see it as a consequence of the other
things council does.

"If we do those things, well, then, it enhances Hamilton's
reputation. If we don't, then it has the opposite effect," he
said.

Hamiltonians can stand up to a bit of good-natured ribbing,
though, he said.

Cheap digs at Hamilton are plentiful on Kiwi comedy shows -
as evidenced when Jono and Ben visited for their #Cooltownbro series.

"What are you most looking forward to?" Jono asks.  "Ah, leaving," Ben replies.  Easy jokes don't help the city, said Mulligan, who grew up in Hamilton.

"Hamilton used to be a punchline in Auckland, but that doesn't happen so much anymore," he said.

"In my experience, Hamilton's reputation among Aucklanders has increased at the same rate as it's become the only place they can afford to live."

Word of mouth might help Hamilton to get there - and the five-year-old #lovethetron social media movement has made a start, he said.
Those behind it describe themselves as "secret squirrel" and responded via the written word to keep their anonymity.

"Not only does it spread information about the city, it also makes a statement about the person who is doing the tweet or the photo - that they are happy to stand up and say 'I love Hamilton'," the message said. 

More than 3000 people belong to the movement, the message said, and they're people who signed up to hear good things about the city and to spread the message.

Mayor Andrew King used Love Hamilton as his election slogan and doesn't think Hamilton has a reputation problem.

"[Hamilton's] really nonpretentious. We don't push ourselves forward. We just are what we are. That's the beauty of our city," he said.

"The people who live here love it."

University of Waikato senior lecturer in marketing Dr Mark Kilgour agrees.

When he grew up in Hamilton, it was seen as a cow town - and it hasn't actively tried to change it, he said.

But the city's reputation isn't likely to be a key factor for anyone choosing whether to live there.

A business, for example, would be more interested in costs, resources and support structures.

Hamilton isn't the only place where city image is a consideration for council.

It's on the risk list for Palmerston North City Council, too. Staff conducted focus groups with 55 residents in May 2016, a risk management progress report from February said.

Residents like the city, but felt it had an undeserved external image of being "boring and a place that people would not want to live in or visit".

And an Auckland Council risk appetite statement touches on reputation - specifically anything that would shake trust and confidence in council, and the risks of not delivering commitments made in the long-term plan.

From Stuff.co.nz