Visitors to New Zealand don't really expect the country to be 100 percent clean and green, Prime Minister John Key says.
The 100 percent Pure brand is used to attract tourists and its accuracy has been questioned.
A recent New York Times report quoted Massey University scientist Mike Joy as saying the image of snow-capped mountains, pristine countryside and clean rivers was false and misleading.
"We don't deserve 100 percent Pure, we are nowhere near the best in the world, we are not even in the top half of countries when it comes to clean and green," he said.
Mr Key says it's a valid brand and no one takes it literally.
"100 percent Pure is a marketing campaign, it's got to be taken with a pinch of salt," he said.
"People have to be very careful when they're potentially running down New Zealand and presenting a position which may not be factually correct."
Mr Key says some waterways need repairing and restoring and the Government has allocated $250 million for that.
"It's also true the vast bulk of waterways are safe to swim in... they look at the worst ones and measure them at the worst times."