Remembering the most hated Air NZ safety video of them all

This week Air New Zealand announced that they would be pulling their divisive “It’s Kiwi Safety” video from their in-flight safety briefing. The Spinoff asked Kiwis from all walks of life to pay their respects.

A former flight attendant:

“I was there in the early stages of Air New Zealand trying to be ‘out there’ with their safety videos – the naked cabin crew and Rico the dirty puppet. There were so many and they seemed to cycle through them so fast. The cabin crew would all roll their eyes, like ‘here comes the new ‘hilarious’ thing”

By now, I think the cabin crew are mostly over it and don’t give a shit, after about two days it kind of becomes background noise. Honestly, your job sucks so much and there’s so much to think about – all the passengers, the chicken or the beef – that it’s the least of your concerns.

The first time I watched it, I looked at the crew member when it was playing. I could see the deadness in her eyes, that she wanted to be somewhere else. I felt her pain.”

Image: YouTube

A creative involved:

“Being a part of the safety song and video process was rad. As someone who usually writes original song content, it actually felt really good working to such a specific brief. Even though it was such a big production with so many people involved everyone was really down to earth which was sick. It was pretty surreal. The best part for me was probably seeing the REWA all Stars perform in the old St James, they are so good at dancing it was gnarly getting to see them in real life. It’s interesting a lot of people hate it haha.”

Joseph Nunweek, superfan:

I genuinely can’t believe they caved to peer pressure and cancelled the “It’s Kiwi Safety” video. The list I compiled in November last year was basically a sustained exercise in going very hard for it – at first because I wanted to make people mad. But as I made myself watch all of these videos, the things everyone found so odious – clumsy meter, incongruous transported and domestic aesthetics – paled in comparison to the way other Air NZ vids worship the military-industrial Tolkien/rugby complex, or their bashful use of some very mid-level celebs in order to seek worldwide acceptance.

Since November, the shrill anger has only gotten funnier. Touring celebs like Donald Glover got spied on in their seats for reactions (god forbid a comedy rapper should have to see comedy rap), and more than anything, I got the sense that whinging about the video from the Koru Lounge was a sort of self-deprecating middle-class mobility marker, an “aw shucks, not AGAIN!” short-hand for “I fly a lot for my job and my leisure.” There’s no way to say this without seeming a bit weird but I hope I keep hearing people scream about this innocuous video until I’m deaf with pleasure.


Read Joseph Nunweek’s power rankings of the Air New Zealand safety videos here


The fans:

“I don’t mind it! The kids bloody love it and bust out “it’s kiwi kiwi KIWI!!” randomly. On a flight to Wellington I did overhear the women next to me say she ‘normally likes Che Fu – but not in this’”

“I bloody love it. It’s very sweet, and silly, and awkward and naff. What’s not to love? Remember the one where Rhys Darby made transphobic jokes? Or that one with the misogynist puppet? Or the way back one where the rugby star refuses to kiss the gay crew member? Surely they’re more offensive than some naff 90s rap homage?”

Image: YouTube.

A rapper:

“Whilst this one sticks out I’m not far removed from the trauma of the All Blacks fumbling their way round some corny rapping. Corny is my least favourite thing and Air NZ lay the corn on thick, dealing herculean blow after blow to our international reputation just when we thought we’d escaped the embarrassment of having John Key represent us on the world stage.”

A celebrity:

Unfortunately Julian [Dennison] isn’t available for comment.”

Image: YouTube.

The haters:

“I was so embarrassed watching it. I made eye contact with a flight attendant and I definitely did not get the vibe she was much of a fan either. There was a line about how if you asked your flight attendant to rap they might do it. I don’t think this woman would have, though.

“Every time it played, I’d look around the plane and you could tell the Kiwis because they’d all be cringing, head in hands or staring blankly ahead while the tourists were all confused. Also seeing the flight attendants try and keep a straight face was amazing.”

“It’s hugely embarrassing. It made me want to apologise to every Australian on the plane. However it’s also somewhat comforting because it’s corny in such an NZ specific way. I mean, I hated it, but I was flying back to NZ for the first time in years. It’s like ugly carpet at your grandparents’ house.”

“What an absolute landfill of an advert, and it just keeps going. It feels like they threw a bunch of cultural signposts into a blender after ingesting a bowl of spiked punch. You can eat a bunch of alphabet soup but you can’t shit out Macbeth.”

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