To celebrate 50 years of a Kiwi icon, the team at Vogel’s has sought to capture some of the magic of what it means to be a New Zealander, by bringing eight strangers together over a breakfast of Vogel’s.

No one knew each other, or why they were there. What was captured were people coming together as they told their true, unscripted stories. They laughed, they cried, but most importantly they connected with each other.

The social experience, captured on film, is a celebration that every Kiwi, no matter who they are, brings something unique and special to the table.

Distinguished Professor and Pro Vice-Chancellor of the College of Humanities at Massey University, Dr Paul Spoonley said on viewing the advert, “It’s interesting and underlines what I see as some of the key characteristics of the ‘superdiverse’ nature of New Zealand in the 21st century. By world standards, New Zealand is a welcoming and open society and one of the most diverse and inclusive countries anywhere in the world.

“But we can always do better in recognizing this diversity. This video helps disrupt the way in which we think of people - for instance, who would have thought that Kenyan-born Suresh would be the one to be able to recount every All Black since 1987.”

The resulting advert is a moving, heart-warming piece, showing how unique backgrounds, experiences, and ways of doing things blend together to create something quite powerful.

“We went out and found eight people, who love their Vogel’s, and brought them together to tell their story and to see what happened,” says Andrew Fenwick, Vogel’s Marketing Manager. “As the breakfast begins, plates which describes some of what each individual brings to the table are handed out.

“Everyone was trying to work out which story belonged to who, especially when the stories ranged from speaking fluent Te Reo, to teaching kids in a warzone. It wasn’t long before a group of people who didn’t know each other were bonding and sharing their stories – there were some real connections formed around the table. We always hoped this would happen but it was heart- warming to see it unfold in front of us.”

At the breakfast table Rainbow Warrior heroine Susi Newborn, who has an incredible story about defending whales: “I thought well we must do something about this...and I met another woman who felt the same way that I did. We decided we’d buy a boat and we’d go out and get in the way of the harpoonist and the whale by putting our bodies in front of the harpoon.”

Fascinating stories also told at the table were from; Charlotte, who taught kids in a war zone; Lidu, a fluent speaker of Te Reo Maori; Heta, who raised three daughters by himself; Mary, the longest serving extra on Shortland Street; Jeremy, who streaked at the Basin Reserve and got away with it; Suresh, who can name every All Black since 1987; and Kayla, whose first language was Sign.

“Kiwis got their first taste of Vogel’s 50 years ago,” says Andrew.

“A lot has changed since then, but there’s also quite a bit that’s stayed the same, like the fact our little country is pretty unique, just like us Kiwis.

“Unique backgrounds, experiences and ways of doing things blend together to create something quite special – we reckon it’s all a part of what’s made New Zealand the amazing place it is today.”

Dr Spoonley adds, “It’s important to let people tell their own stories and not impose things on them. Let’s not see someone and then assume that we know what they think or how they are going to act.”

The experience was shared with New Zealanders on THREE during The Block, 7:30pm last night, Sunday 16 July.