If you haven’t heard of Go Media, you soon will.

Aucklanders will see the New Zealand-owned media company’s name up in lights on the side of Mt Smart stadium for the next year – 17 years after Ericsson took the first naming rights for the venue. 

Since 2006, it's been nameless since the Auckland regional council said no company fitted the desired image that shared the council's values. 

It’s a staggering high point for Go Media, which has grown from humble beginnings in the wake of the Christchurch earthquake 12 years ago.

Husband-and-wife media moguls, Mike Gray and Andrea Rongonui own Go Media with their business partner Dean Shaw. They built Go Media from the ground up.

They operate their media company from Waiheke Island – their sanctuary after they left Christchurch following the earthquakes. 

When they fled their red-stickered home in Redcliffs, it was meant to be a temporary solution. The five-year insurance battle had taken its toll and during the process Rongonui was pregnant with their youngest child.

The pair spent the next decade rebuilding their lives and their business. 

Gray said Go Media has consumed their lives. They've been putting all their energy into growing it.

“It takes at least 10 years to build a business that can work, that's sustainable. We’ve been in the industry for 29 years, it’s taken that long to get here.

“We've had to build through earthquakes, through lockdowns, through cyclones and storms, while raising a family, but here we are. We're a great New Zealand success story.

“We're putting our name in lights on the stadium and we're letting other companies know that you really can take your business to the highest of heights.

“And so, that's our aspirational goal.”

Auckland was a tough nut to crack, he said.

“Getting established in Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) has been pretty hard because this is where most people start. We’ve gone the other way around, due to circumstance.

“This city already has established outdoor companies here and the bigger players are all massive global companies.”

But Gray said Go Media is a proud NZ company that backs New Zealanders in sports, arts, music, culture and comedy. 

He still does a lot of the commercial deals for the business himself, but the business now has 30 staff and five offices around the country.

“We're a significant business now. And we want to keep growing – we want to be number one in our industry.”

It all started four years ago when Go Media won the rights through Tātaki Auckland Unlimited to put up digital billboards around properties owned by the council's Auckland Stadiums division. 

This strong relationship led to the media company offering its support to help find a naming rights partner for Mt Smart stadium. 

During the process, Gray started considering putting up Go Media as a potential partner.

“It's a twist, it's a natural alignment and a natural progression. We sponsored teams and have a relationship with stadiums to put up screens. Our name appears on the signage around the field. Why not have it on stadium? Why not?”

Gray said Go Media went from being the support to help find a partner to “being that someone”.

The new partnership was significant for the local economy because the company wanted to bring more content to the stadium, he said.

“Our contribution is increasing revenue for Auckland council that will feed into the economy.

“If you can bring extra revenue as opposed to cutting costs, it's achieving the same thing in a different way.”

Gray could not be drawn on the cost of the naming rights, but said it’s “not an insignificant number”.

Tātaki Auckland Unlimited Stadiums director James Parkinson said the stadium was generally able to support its running costs through ticketed events, but anything that helped reduce reliance on ratepayer funding was a priority.

“We are more committed than ever to making Go Media Stadium an accessible, affordable asset for Tāmaki Makaurau.”

Parkinson said it was important to find a partner that complemented and enhanced the stadium, as well as being able to add value to the community.

“Go Media is a natural fit, proudly Kiwi-owned, and community-minded,” he said.

Gray and Rongonui (Ratana, Ngāti Tūwharetoa) said the origins of the land on which the stadium sits were important to mana whenua, Ngāti Whatua Ōrakei. 

Rongonui was looking forward to learning more about the land's history and being able to help share the story.

The couple recently celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary, and Rongonui said she is looking forward to the “long week” coming to an end.

“I feel like I'll be happy to get to the announcement. It's the first time we've ever taken a leap this big.”