Auckland's new slogan cost $500,000, is centuries old

Auckland - the place desired by many?
Auckland - the place desired by many?

The head of Auckland's tourism body is defending the spending of half-a-million dollars on the city's proposed new slogan, which just happens to be identical to one already used for Auckland by Maori for centuries.

It's taken two years to come up with the catchphrase 'The Place Desired By Many' to replace 'The World's Most Liveable City' as Auckland's marketing pitch.

The $500,000 price tag has come under heavy criticism from councillors. Dick Quax told the New Zealand Herald it was an "outrageous raping of the ratepayer", and Chris Fletcher "a complete waste of money".

But Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) chief executive Brett O'Riley says they've been very transparent.

"We find it a little surprising that they are surprised that this work has been undertaken, particularly when some councillors - not all - chose to participate in the interviews process for this project."

There's perhaps an irony in that the slogan isn't even new - Ngati Whatua o Orakei knew Auckland as "the place desired by many" before European settlers even arrived.

It was also used by new Mayor Phil Goff in his inaugural speech.

A spokesperson for Mr Goff told the Herald he was not interested in "championing" the new slogan.

Mr Quax called it the kind of "nonsense" that drives people to vote for Donald Trump.

"We have got huge costs coming down the line. People in South Auckland and West Auckland can't afford to buy a house or pay rent. Teachers can't afford to live in Auckland," he told the Herald.

Mr O'Riley says they're been giving updates to councillors every quarter since 2014.

"This is ATEED undertaking work that council has asked us to do. It's work that we report back to council on every quarter. The work and the costs are transparent - they're in our statement of intent."

Mr O'Riley says the new slogan incorporates the voices of many Aucklanders.

FOrmer Mayor Len Brown was a big fan of 'The World's Most Liveable City', using it regularly.