We are a design and communications practice

DARBY is a strategic partnership of Anabel and Simon Darby. Each brings a wealth of experience and a highly collaborative approach to working with clients. We only work with a small number of clients at any one time to ensure the highest level of service, and importantly to become fully engaged in the objectives of any given project.

House of Travel on Victoria
One Degree
Silver Ferns Travel
Lucina Maternity Foundation
TRI NZ Travel
Lucina Maternity Foundation
Unexpected Project
Contain This
Contain This
Contain This
Urology Care
Cedar Women's Health
Bay Area Maternity
Save a Mother's Life
Unexpected Project Conference
Maternity Crisis
DMD Dental Boston
Hello CPM
Geeks for You
Geeks for You
Kids Health
Infinite Search
Health Search
PowerPlan - Fiji
PowerPlan - Samoa
Communication Projects

Our communications work covers a wide range of projects, from product launches to crisis management, dealing with specialist media to international news organisations. The following is a sample of projects that reflect just some of our capabilities.

Project: Foo Fighters

Foo Fighters to put Christchurch on the world map

Christchurch’s AMI Stadium will be transformed from a sporting turf into a giant stage venue for the Foo Fighters’ first Australasian concert on their 20 th anniversary Sonic Highways World Tour next year.

Vbase General Manager Darren Burden says the stadium will be ready to welcome over 30,000 Foo fans from around the South Island, and the world on Wednesday 18 February.

“We are thrilled Frontier Touring is bringing the Foo Fighters and their support act Rise Against to Christchurch to launch their Australasian tour,” he says.

“It’s something we have been working hard to make happen. It’s a huge win for us, and it puts Christchurch back on the international map.”

“The Foo Fighters are arguably the biggest rock band in the world right now and they’re known for going to extreme lengths to do things differently, so we’re anticipating a spectacular event,” Mr Burden says.

“It will be a major production that will benefit local music and entertainment industry suppliers, and boost the city’s hospitality industry, bringing thousands of extra visitors to the city at an exciting time of year.

“Christchurch has never seen anything quite like this. It is certainly the biggest event here since Bon Jovi and Pearl Jam filled the previous AMI Stadium in 2008 and 2009.”

“Our supporting partners AMI and the Christchurch Stadium Trust will be helping us pull out all the stops on this one.”

Christchurch has played a big part on the Foo Fighters radar in recent years. In March 2011 they performed a special show in Auckland to raise funds for the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal.

“This show has been timed to commemorate the 4th anniversary of the February 2011 earthquake and will be a chance for the Foos to see the city’s progress first hand, and meet some of the people they have helped.”

Tickets go on early access pre-sale for Frontier Club members from Tuesday 11 November, with public sales starting on Thursday 13 November at 12 noon.

Darren Burden says 2015 promises to be a huge year for South Island music fans.

As well as the Foo Fighters, Vbase is hosting a string of top world tour acts at Christchurch’s Horncastle Arena, including Ed Sheeran, and Billy Idol.

Tickets will be available from ticketek.co.nz from 12 noon on Thursday 13 November.

For further information please contact:
Anabel Darby
Tel: 03 379 2990

Project: Crisis Management

Corporate and Crisis Communications for Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism

Christchurch was hit by a series of earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, destroying much of the central city.

Anabel Darby led the tourism communications response for both September 2010 and February 2011 quakes, and the crisis management in days, weeks and months after the quakes.

The tourism industry was hard hit. Christchurch lost most of its hotels, major infrastructure, heritage buildings, airline capacity, visitors and most of all, its reputation as a safe destination.

Moments after both disasters in September and February, there was 24/7 media coverage around the world, particularly in our biggest market Australia.

In February 2011 the National Crisis Management Centre placed travel restrictions on Christchurch. Many visitors who were in the city at the time left all their belongings in badly damaged hotels, including passports.

More than 500 NZ and international media arrived within the first 24 hours, and camped out in tough conditions at the National Crisis Emergency Centre (Art Gallery). Civil Defence had only ever planned for 100 media in an emergency. The official State of Emergency continued for 10 weeks with the city cordoned off by police and military.

During this time we helped manage international media requests. We assisted with media at civil defence headquarters, accompanied media crews into the disaster zone needing local knowledge and worked on messaging with key government agencies TNZ, MBIE and CCC.

We kept public and media informed via key channels and platforms including social media, official websites and media releases, while riding the waves of ongoing aftershocks for the following 18 months.

The recovery work still continues.

Project: Rebuilding Reputation

Rebuilding the reputation of Christchurch post-quake 2011-2013

"Tell the stories, take people on the journey with you, mark every milestone in progress."

We brought international media to meet the people behind our pop-up culture - the Student Volunteer Army, Gap Filler, the Cardboard Cathedral project, and Re:Start container Mall.

For the first anniversary we wrote and produced content for media, print and online channels, including B-roll footage, interviews with local leaders and creative people, and organised and directed a photo shoot that showed up to date progress in the city.

We worked with international travel guide publishers Lonely Planet to help them experience the recovery progress, and then worked to promote Christchurch's achievement by marking this with a major media announcement.

The Lonely Planet guide's endorsement went on to be used by Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism in a marketing and advertising campaign in Australia, and Christchurch was dubbed "the ever-evolving city, buzzing with creativity"

October 2012

Lonely Planet's placement of Christchurch at number six on its list of 'Top 10 Cities for 2013' is being hailed as game-changing news for the city's tourism industry.

"To have such a respected world-wide publication single out Christchurch as an exciting, vibrant place to visit is an incredible boost for Christchurch," says Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism chief executive Tim Hunter.

"It is priceless recognition of all the hard work that has gone on in Christchurch since the quakes and has the potential to make a huge difference to the speed at which our tourism industry recovers."

Christchurch is the only New Zealand city to make it into Lonely Planet's annual Best in Travel publication – a collection of the world's best trends, destinations, journeys and experiences for the upcoming year.

The city was singled out by Lonely Planet for the way it was "bouncing back with a new energy and inventiveness".

"New Zealand's second largest city is rising from the rubble … with a breath-taking mix of spirit, determination and flair," Lonely Planet writers say. "The recovery effort is well under way and 2013 will be an intriguing year to join the rebirth of this proud southern city."

This coverage led to another major international accolade in the New York Times the following year:

January 2014

The New York Times named Christchurch as the second of 52 places in the world to visit in 2014.

The paper described Christchurch as a city "experiencing a rebirth with creativity and wit" after two devastating earthquakes.

"Though much of the central city has yet to be rebuilt, entrepreneurs and volunteers are finding surprising ways to make temporary use of empty lots and bring life back to the downtown.

"The Gap Filler programme had created an open-air performance space made of blue pallets, a dance floor with coin-operated music and lights, and even a nine-hole mini-golf course in vacant lots across the city"

It also pointed to the transitional "cardboard" cathedral and Revival bar, built inside shipping containers as the city's commitment to rebuild.

Project: MEETINGS 2014

MEETINGS is New Zealand's largest business tourism trade exhibition, held annually every June, attracting 185 exhibitors from all over New Zealand and 600 buyers from New Zealand, Australia and key international markets to Auckland for two days, and the pre-familiarisation days leading up to the event.

For the 4th year we worked with the organiser, Conventions & Incentives New Zealand (CINZ), together with Tourism New Zealand Business Events, Air New Zealand and Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development (ATEED) to bring together a record number of key media to MEETINGS.

For six months leading up to the event we raised awareness and helped drive exhibitor and buyer registrations by producing news releases, posting social media content, and working closely with our Auckland-based client to attain their objectives. Our communications activities included identifying, qualifying and inviting leading Australian and New Zealand media to join the MEETINGS hosted media programme, working with Tourism New Zealand to accredit and host international media, and creating the media programme and schedule. We worked closely with exhibitors and regional convention bureaux to attract coverage for their products and services, identify their news angles and gain coverage.

We produced 14 media releases, close to 100 pieces of positive coverage in influential business publications, and created a social media platform for the event that grew to reach a large, highly engaged audience - and we organised a successful media conference to open MEETINGS.

Project: New Zealand Cup and Show Week 2013

New Zealand Cup and Show Week is the most recognised and vibrant racing, fashion and agricultural event in New Zealand, attracting domestic and international visitors to celebrate the unique character of Christchurch and New Zealand. It encompasses three key events during November and incudes Canterbury Aniversary Day: New Zealand Trotting Cup, Canterbury A & P Show and New Zealand Cup (thoroughbred racing).

A PR and Communication strategy was needed to enhance New Zealand Cup and Show Week's quality, reputation and attendance, and to position it as the premier week of racing, agriculture and fashion in New Zealand, attracting visitors to Christchurch. The week-long event would help change the perception of Christchurch during post-quake redevelopment and support the local economy through boosting awareness of events, attractions, fashion, retail and hospitality offerings in the city.

Our event PR and communications expertise and experience were put to good use to promote New Zealand Cup and Show Week 2013. Previously Darby has led communications and PR for two other key Christchurch City Council events: the World Buskers Festival and Ellerslie International Flower Show, recognised as key events to attract visitors and generate economic activities, strengthen the distinctive identity of Christchurch, and celebrate and promote culture and diversity in the city.

On behalf of Christchuch City Council we worked for six months within the New Zealand Cup and Show Week events, marketing and stakeholder team to create and execute the communication plan for the event, which included supporting all the event organisers and stakeholders to achieve their outcomes.

Our activities included researching, writing and editing a fashion and event magazine distributed to over 85,000 households throughout Christchurch, researching, writing 11 media releases, seven e-newsletters to over 6,500 subsribers, website content, social media input, extensive media liaison, media monitoring and reporting.

PR played a key role in lifting the reputation of the festival and delivering positive messages about the city to a New Zealand-wide audience.

Media results showed a cumulative audience of 48 million during the period 1 August to 30 November including a television audience of 19.6 m viewers with exclusive stories on stories on TV1, TV3, Prime News, Breakfast, Firstline, Campbell Live and Seven Sharp and CTV, plus close to 500 print articles including four front page covers, and over 1,500 radio news stories.

Project: Confidential

Confidentiality and discretion is often the nature of our work. In this case we were engaged by a major client to assemble a substantial bid document for a large infrastructure project. The project remains confidential.

Our work in this involved bringing together raw content and data from a wide range of sources. Our knowledge, contacts, experience, research, writing and design capabilities enabled us to create much of this content, working in close collaboration with the client and structuring it to specific tender requirements.

As with all tenders, a strict deadline meant a strict process of managing the workflow. Planning was paramount, and from the outset collaboration proved key between the design production team and the client.


We devised a system to manage the flow of information and edits, integrating it into the document design process in real-time. We worked on the basis that our content would only be as good as its accessibility to the reader, so design was critical. We also knew the quality of this document needed to reflect the standards of our client. It also had to set the bar very high above other tender bids.

The resulting full colour document comprised some 200 pages, with 22 A3 wide copies printed and bound. We also produced a visual presentation to complement the document, for the client to present. While the outcome can be out of our influence, we always aim to stack the cards in our clients favour as much as possible through high quality content and excellent design.

Design Projects
Partner profiles

The practice was first established in Sydney as Lockhart Darby in 1989, undertaking contracts in Hong Kong and Canada before moving to Christchurch in 2003. Care and creativity is our defining philosophy. We work hard to create and deliver clever communications for our clients, and place the highest value on the people we work for and influence.

Anabel Darby

Anabel Darby is a founding partner of the firm, and leads the communications team. Her 25-year career has included senior roles in advertising, publishing and public relations. Anabel has established and maintained a reputation in Christchurch and New Zealand as an influential advisor to her clients on both strategic and tactical levels, and she is a credible and trusted source for journalists.

Anabel began her career in Auckland as editor of Air New Zealand's in-flight magazine, before moving to Sydney to edit women's magazines including Dolly and Cosmopolitan. Prior to setting up her own company, she was an account director with a leading Sydney PR agency, managing major international corporate, healthcare and travel industry clients. She has also lived and worked in Hong Kong, London and Vancouver.

Highly experienced in executing major PR campaigns, Anabel also works with skilled PR teams in New Zealand and Australia, with resources to match.

Simon Darby

Simon is a designer and creative director with over 30 years' experience in Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Canada and the U.S. He has worked across every aspect of design in marketing, with some of the world's leading advertising agencies, industrial and digital designers. Simon's digital design work has been recognized with several international design awards.

Simon has worked extensively with start-up companies and corporations alike. From aspiring tech ventures to giants like Philips, Mercedes-Benz, Mastercard, and DHL. Simon has experience across a wide range of sectors including healthcare, Internet and software technology, banking and investment, tourism and business travel, entertainment and broadcast media.

Not everything is in the public eye, some of what Simon works on is very discreet and commercially sensitive, such as multi-million dollar tenders, billion dollar investment proposals, through to prototyping brand and product concepts.

What Simon brings to each and every project is the ability to dive deep into the individual market that a product or service operates in. With this understanding he is able to shape branding, messaging and a clear strategy for the product or service being marketed.

Simon's perspective is 'we work in that creative space between what our client needs and what their market wants'. Simon is a strong advocate of integrated brand and product marketing tightly aligned to market channels, particularly online. Simon believes good design sets you apart from the competition. Good design engages with your market creating strong relationship equity.

Practice associates

DARBY has over time developed a network of associates, each with their own set of skills and experience. This network includes associates in Australia, Canada and the United States. TWO Strategic is the result of a long standing, highly successful working relationship for the design practice in North America.

TWO Strategic

TWO is a North American-based collaboration providing clients in North America with a highly skilled brand development and marketing team.

TWO clients include several California-based organisations, as diverse as healthcare non-profit Lucina Maternity Foundation, and start-up product development company Contain This. TWO has also been involved in a wide range of brand development projects that involve website and identity design in Canada and the U.S.

Visit the TWO website: www.twostrategic.com

Our work space
One day we are working on a brand project in San Francisco, the next day we are launching a website in Sydney. The world is our desktop.
Say hello

Anabel Darby

New Zealand (03) 379 2990
International +64 3 379 2990


Simon Darby

New Zealand (03) 379 2990
International +64 3 379 2990