A senior Government minister is lashing out at environmentalists for criticising New Zealand's clean, green image abroad.
The outburst comes after a Kiwi scientist was slated for questioning the country's '100% Pure' image in the US media.
Climate Change Minister Tim Groser said the slogan is impossible to live up to, and is being used against the country.
"It's been used as a stick to beat New Zealand by environmental activists," he said.
Groser was speaking after environmentalist Dr Mike Joy slammed the campaign in an article about New Zealand's water quality in the New York Times .
The Massey University lecturer said New Zealand's image as a clean, green nation is as "fantastical as dragons and wizards".
It was a move which one PR expert has likened to economic treason.
But Joy told ONE News: "I'm not going to lie about this stuff."
"There probably will be a few people who won't want to put their heads up and speak out."
Today Groser told ONE News Political Editor Corin Dann that critics need to be realistic and show some balance as New Zealand could never be 100% pure in environmental terms.
"We've got to maintain progress, but I think people have also got to realise that we also have to earn a living, and this is actually deeply unhelpful when we are trying to promote New Zealand," the minister said.
However, Green Party co-leader Russell Norman said while no-one expects the country to be 100% pure, tourists do expect honesty.
"What Tim Groser is saying is they want a cover up rather than a clean up," he said.
But brand experts said the slogan works even though it relies upon a reasonable amount of exaggeration.
"If we said 'partially pure' or 'mostly pure' nobody would pay attention," said Rick Star.
"But honestly, most people don't expect 100% pure."