Tuesday, February 16, 2021

New Zealand is being transformed, but not in a good way

[I wrote this piece for the latest edition of The Spectator Australia.]

Prime minister Jacinda Ardern promised, on the night of her general election triumph last October, to govern for all New Zealanders. But her Labour government is pursuing policies that will entrench racial separatism, undermine democracy, turbocharge the grievance culture and promote polarisation and divisiveness.

The immediate threats come from proposals to outlaw “hate speech”, however that may be defined, and bestow special privilege on people who identify as Maori by allowing city and district councils to create exclusively Maori wards. In the longer term, the government is likely to seize on climate change as justification for policies that could deliver a savage blow to the country’s most dynamic productive sector.

Add to that the politicisation of education, in the form of a new, Marxist-influenced history curriculum that portrays Maori as a race still oppressed by colonialism, and you have a perfect ideological storm. New Zealand sometimes feels as if it’s in the grip of a Year Zero cult similar in tone, if not in scale, to that promoted in Pol Pot’s Kampuchea (Cambodia), where everything that had gone before was renounced.

To take those developments one by one:

■ Urged on by inflammatory rhetoric from an ideologically driven Human Rights Commission and a handful of vociferous immigrant activists whose views are at odds with those of their communities, Labour has vowed to introduce tight controls on what New Zealanders may legally say about matters of race and religion (and very likely gender and body shape too). The government cites the Christchurch mosque massacres as justification, although a royal commission failed to find any evidence that lax “hate speech” laws allowed or even encouraged Brenton Tarrant (who, it should be remembered, was an Australian) to embark on his killing spree.

■ Labour is encouraging the creation of designated Maori seats on city and district councils, despite the idea being resoundingly rejected by voters in local referendums wherever they have been proposed. A law change will not only give Maori (or more correctly, part-Maori) candidates a short cut to representation by enabling them to avoid the inconvenience of winning popular support, but will result in the election of councillors responsible only to people who claim Maori ancestry.

Under present law, any person of Maori descent can stand for office and win a seat, and many do. The crucial difference is that the law change will guarantee seats under a preferential, race-based system. The irony that this is being done in the name of racial equality is lost on leftist zealots.

■ The government is expected to embrace climate change recommendations that would punish the farming sector – now more than ever the country’s economic lifeline following Covid-19’s devastating effect on tourism. Farmers will be rewarded for keeping New Zealand afloat economically for more than 100 years by having their livestock numbers slashed and being ordered to replace diesel utes with electric vehicles.  Will this concern Labour MPs? Not likely, since hardly any represent rural constituencies and few show any interest in economic realities. For Labour, the economy is not so much about generating income as redistributing it.

■ Having shamefully ignored New Zealand history in the past, education bureaucrats have taken advantage of an ideological tail-wind by approving a draft curriculum that’s drenched in neo-Marxist identity politics and presents the country’s past as one characterised by the oppressive effects of colonialism on Maori. Will teachers be permitted to mention that colonialism also brought an end to centuries of savage tribal warfare, slavery and cannibalism? Don’t bank on it.

All of this would be alarming enough, but is made more so because no one is standing in the way. New Zealand First, the conservative government coalition partner that acted as a handbrake on Labour between 2017 and 2020, much to the chagrin of the Left, lost all its seats in the election – punishment for a record fatally tarnished by dodgy and opaque backroom dealings.

What, then, of the National party, nominally Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition? Reduced from 56 to 33 seats in the 120-seat parliament, National is in abject disarray – floundering, demoralised and apparently rudderless after its humiliating election rout.

Historically the dominant force in New Zealand politics, it seems to be waiting for a new messiah to guide it out of the wilderness. Current leader Judith Collins rejoices in the sobriquet “Crusher”, bestowed by the media when she was a tough-talking cabinet minister in John Key’s government, but Kitten would be a more appropriate nickname as she allows herself to be browbeaten almost daily by Labour cheerleaders in the parliamentary press gallery.

Ah yes, the press. In a properly functioning democracy, the media can be relied on, when all else fails, to hold governments to account; but not in New Zealand in 2021. Ardern and her government get a free run from admiring journalists – many of them young and female – who are enthralled that their prime minister is internationally feted as a model leader by left-leaning papers such as the New York Times and the Guardian. The media’s capture by the woke left was never better demonstrated than when the country’s biggest print company devoted acres of newsprint over several days to a hand-wringing mea culpa for decades of supposedly racist reporting that marginalised Maori.  

None of the above conveys adequately the scale or force of the ideological tsunami currently washing over New Zealand. Other manifestations include the almost complete takeover of the public conversation by proponents of divisive identity politics; the vindictive daily denunciations of people whose opinions, until quite recently, were considered not only legitimate but mainstream; and the massive power grab by people who have reclaimed (or rediscovered) their Maoriness.

The danger is that most New Zealanders, being essentially passive, easy-going and good-natured, will ignore the tumult and just try to get on with lives – until they wake up one morning and realise that the open, tolerant and fair-minded society they grew up in has irrevocably changed. 


David McLoughlin said...

Other manifestations include the almost complete takeover of the public conversation by proponents of divisive identify politics; the vindictive daily denunciations of people whose opinions, until quite recently, were considered not only legitimate but mainstream; and the massive power grab by people who have reclaimed (or rediscovered) their Maoriness.

The overlooked irony of all this is that those driving identity politics and intersectionality here and overseas are not brown, black, gay, lesbian, trans, fat and all the other lauded identities they promote, but the most elite of all our university folk -- overhwhelmingly straight and white, and many of them, er, ahem... men.

They are like (and overlap) with the Global Warmists, who want to reduce everyone except themselves to poverty, cold and darkness in a world of plenty.

They are essentially anti-democratic elitists who despise the masses and who believe they alone should rule the world. And their takeover of academia, schools, the media and now the business elite means they are winning.

Mark Wahlberg said...

"Nowhere to run to baby, Nowhere to hide
I got Nowhere to run to baby, Nowhere to hide
It's not love I'm runnin' from,
Just the heartbreak I know will come…"

"Martha and the Vandellas (1965)"

Mark Wahlberg (Bloke)

CXH said...

David, he also caved to a person that claimed a tiki, a cowboy hat and a nice suit was culteral attire.

JC said...

"Will teachers be permitted to mention that colonialism also brought an end to centuries of savage tribal warfare, slavery and cannibalism?"

Wasn't 'savage tribal warfare' and 'slavery' features of just about every country in the world since time immemorial until sometime in the 20th century? (not cannibalism, I'll give you that - although how widespread was the practice here, actually?)

And wasn't 'colonialism' - be it British, French, Spanish, Portugese, Dutch, American etc - responsible for widespread devastation among indigenous people in every country in which it flourished? Does colonialism really have that much to be proud of?

Trev1 said...

A very important article. Share widely.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

That we have to read Australian MSM to find out what's actually going on in our own country is the proof of your assertions Karl.

CXH said...

JC, yes slavery has been a part of most societies in the past. Yet it seems that only slavery carried out by 'western' countries needs to be decried and treated as a stain on their history.

As for colonisers, you missed out many Asian groups, the Persians, Aztecs and Mayans. Again, it would appear that only 'western' colonisation is bad. In reality it is just part of our history that is being judged not through the eyes of the time, but the eyes of today. This means you are no longer discussing history, but opinions on right and wrong.

Odysseus said...

You have nailed it Karl. To all intents and purposes New Zealand is now a one-party State ruled by a clique pursuing a hard Left agenda. The media have been bought off, and the Opposition appear bewildered and dispirited. Only Act brings any intellectual heft to the job of opposing the juggernaut which is riding roughshod over our democracy and society.

We need to keep alternative channels open for debate and the exchange of ideas, and to oppose anti-democratic initiatives. The money you once paid for a newspaper subscription can be repurposed for donations to eg the Free Speech Coalition, the Taxpayers' Union and others. It is also important to submit as individuals against proposals that threaten this country's future, whether it is the proposed Marxist history syllabus or the Year Zero notions of the Climate Change Commission. Setting pen to paper at the very least helps to get one's own arguments into a coherent form.

Andy Espersen said...

Karl, you have written a masterly summary of the dangers that lie ahead for our democracy - thank you. It is the more frightening when we bear in mind that the very same dangers exist in most other, and much larger Western democracies. Our woke, naive Labour-Green government and its admiring, childlike journalists are not the originators of these policies. They are just aping the ideas of others - on white fragility, on colonialism, on racist institutional systems, etc., etc. . In the US they have their celebrated 1st amendment. This will make it impossible for them to ever pass anti hate-speech legislation – where an individual can actually be charged as a criminal for stating an opinion. But, sadly, in our elected 3-year dictatorship this is perfectly possible. It is still theoretically possible for an MP to cross the floor; but that does not happen often in New Zealand where loyalty counts far more than individual, ethical convictions - very particularly under our MMP system – where some now want to force an MP to resign for doing so.

You could have included Covid lockdown policies – also here does our government trample on citizens’ freedom, blithely ignoring ancient Habeas Corpus laws, such as the freedom to leave your home. the freedom to employ yourself and others in gainful, lawful occupation, the freedom as a New Zealander to enter New Zealand at any time.

You finish with a chilling warning : will New Zealanders sit passively by – and wake up one morning in George Orwell’s 1984?? In your article you do not mention our new political force, the ACT party (I presume because you were writing for an Australian audience). Judging by the maiden speeches from its MPs, they do all have a real concept of freedom for the individual - and they all show intelligence, passion and integrity. David Seymour and his team of ten have a heavy responsibility over the next three years.

MartinTupuarangi said...

There is a whakatauki from Ngati Hine which I find endlessly intriguing.
Ina tera nga kapua, hei hau kei muri.
When the clouds move, there is a wind behind them.
This small gem is indicative of just how subtle the intellect of mana whenua can be. Winds push clouds around. But what causes the winds to blow? Heat, cold-the seasons - sure. But no one can tell you just when it’s all going to happen. So we are usually left saying, “Wow, that was a once in hundred years weather event.” Didn’t see that coming.
The Pākehā mind is deductive as opposed to intuitive. There are experts everywhere, still no one saw COVID-19 until it had well and truly arrived, but scientific data indicating a pandemic was due was readily available.
So don’t be surprised or incredulous if I say that the intellectual, political, and philosophical gestalt of this country has irreversibly changed. It has been happening since Bastion Point, but the acceleration of the rate of change from Margin to Mainstream of Te Kaupapa Māori has been breathtaking of late.
Make no error that under Labour the Winds of Change will result in a step-change in the National Consciousness.
The “Silent Majority” will remain so. A variety of individuals and groups will make their rejection of such a transformation clear, but the political and media majority which pull the levers of Power has firmly embraced the anti-colonial kōrero of Māori activism. Ask them. The Ministers, the Cabinet, and the PM. Ask the Opposition, ask our Mayor, and the majority of Councillors.
Where this will lead us is unknown territory, but make no error, a new era has begun.

813 Whāreora Road

MartinTupuarangi said...

Kapai tō kōrero matua Karl.
Now here’s a go.
Coincidental as it may be, I am very much inclined to think that 2020, as well as bringing us the plague of COVID-19, also brought us a great change in our National gestalt, zeitgeist or “Like What’s going down Dude.”
Dig it. Everywhere I look there’s changes sweeping through Government Departments, the way business is being run, what people are doing to cope with the New Realities, and not only cope but thrive. Despite the hassle and static which always accompanies the New Wave. And although a lot of the static being generated is around Māori/ Pākehā relations, these relations are but one aspect of a much larger Movement.
Back in the Day it was put this way.. The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.
Say what? Say that the 21st Century is Here it’s been smoking down the track for a cupply decades now, but now it has pulled into Grand Central, and we will need to make a serious effort to get our heads around what it signifies.
So we can respond appropriately and effectively to its manifold challenges.
For starters the expansion of consciousness in regard to Te Tiriti is not about now Māori are winners and Pākehā are being sidelined. What is happening is - it is time for the social decay which has wasted away Mana Whenua must now be and therefore will be primarily addressed by Mana Whenua. And Mana Whenua will rapidly realise that the problems in just two social areas, Child Welfare and Justice are Colossal. They can only be solved by a cooperative approach supported by all sides.
This imperative for coalition will apply across the board. If the 20th Century was about Us v Them, the 21st Century must be about understanding Them, and Them understanding Us. Not from weakness, but from necessity.
Seven billion of us aboard a very finite Planet, right now cruising for a Monumental Global Bruising.
We’re lucky here, but we can only ride our luck so far.
Neke Neke!

813 Whāreora Road
Whangārei RD 5.

Andy Espersen said...

In reply to G.M. Tinker from Whangarei, please let me say that the sayings of Martin Tupurangi (whoever he is – I never heard of him) are as vague and insubstantial as the winds and the clouds he muses on. I presume he makes sense to you – you are obviously cleverer than I am.

MartinTupuarangi said...

Further to the above, I will add this assessment
Mr. Du Fresne has provided us with an accurate summation of what is in effect the collapse of the Conservative intellectual position vis a vis New Zealand history and its position in regard to social reality as we proceed into the 21st Century.
The chief proponent of the conservative position is of course Mr. Don Brash. His thesis being Hobson’s Pledge, the premises of which, we are all too familiar with. Unfortunately this familiarity also signifies its fatal weakness. The bestowing of the rights, privileges and obligations upon Māori via The Treaty cannot be challenged, however the historical record does indicate the application of the Pledge left much to be desired.
My own ancestor arrived on these shores in 1827, during the Musket Wars. His patron was the Rangitira of the hapū which held mana whenua in our district (rohe). My ancestor was a master mariner, and his job was to pilot European vessels into the harbour across a difficult bar. He married into the hapū and proceeded to buy two blocks of land, in 1832 and 1838. One of these blocks was confiscated from his half caste son in 1870. It remains in Government possesion, and no compensation was ever received.
I mention this occurrence to reinforce my position that colonial administrations did commit many Treaty breaches. However I agree that the effect of the Waitangi Tribunal and its decision making processes has had a fundamentally detrimental impact on racial harmony in this country.
Salmond, Orange, O’Malley et al have laid down the intellectual platform of woke white guilt and the Mutus and Harawiras rub it in mightily. The Kaupapa of Māori activism has seized the initiative on all fronts, and I would suggest that this is a result in no small degree to the fact that the conservative intellectual position has remained fixated on Hobson’s Okedge and a rigid adherence to the doctrine of no partnership, with, but all obedience required, in relations between Māori and the Crown. This is an absurd and anachronistic position, Remember Pākehā such as Mr. Du Fresne and everyone else in this country are similarly bound, according to the Pkedgers. This begs the question: do they feel they are shut out of any partnership with the Queen, Prince Charles, Randy Andy and the rest because they are by definition the subjects if the Royal Family?
Bullshit. Tutae. But that is the bottom line of Hobson’s Pledge.
Instead of whinging about how unfair it all is I suggest that Conservative thinking needs a very urgent re examination in order to get up to speed and regain relevance at this point in history,Contact tracing via Bluetooth, genome sequencing and Elon Musk not butterfly nets mutton cop whiskers and The ArchBishop of Canterbury are so passé.
I even have a few suggestions if anybody, including Karl du Fresne is interested.
813;Whāreora Road
RD5 Whāngarei.

Michael Johnston said...

Both fair points JC. It wasn't colonialism as such that brought an end to inter-tribal warfare and slavery, but the enlightenment values that the colonists brought with them. As you rightly point out, in the absence of those values, just about every culture throughout history has been brutal and cruel by our standards. So even if enlightenment values are not something to be proud of - we, after all, are their inheritors, not their inventors - they are at least something to take grave responsibility for preserving. Ardern and her followers are, at best, neglectful of that responsibility.

Doug Longmire said...

Once again Karl, you have described it very accurately and we share your concern and alarm - especially that there is now no coherent opposition to the woke wave of restructuring our nation.
One of the most alarming agenda items in my mind is the outright statement that the govt intends to "rewrite history" in the school curriculum. This is really quite revealing.

Rewriting history has been the hall mark of some of the most dreadful dictatorships in the history of mankind. Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Nanking massacre. The list is long.

Add to this the determination to make New Zealand slave to the great climate change scam, and we have no bbq's, no petrol cars, huge power price increases, a major drop in our export earnings (20% less farm animals to reduce all those "toxic" cow farts).

Meantime the real emitters such as China, and India keep on building coal fired power stations.

Steve Taylor said...

Hi Karl,

The Spectator version of this article was shared as a link on the New Conservative Facebook page, and the article was removed.

The article was in the public domain.

Any idea why this might have occurred?

Mark Wahlberg said...

Doug longmire laments a NZ where "the determination to make New Zealand slave to the great climate change scam, and we have no bbq's, no petrol cars, huge power price increases, a major drop in our export earnings (20% less farm animals to reduce all those "toxic" cow farts)"

I understand Dougs concerns. I had to give up driving my Cadillac because I could no longer afford the 100 octane leaded fuel (aviation gasoline) it so dearly loved. Unicorn Pee didn't pack enough punch.

I attempted to create a wooden BBQ once. The idea being it would be energy efficient and self cleaning at the same time. Like my inflatable concrete lifeboat idea, it needed some fine tuning.

Doug goes on to say "Meantime the real emitters such as China, and India keep on building coal fired power stations" I might be mistaken, but doesn't New Zealand A.K.A Aotearoa export coal to China?

Karl du Fresne said...

Sorry, no idea. Whatever happens to my posts once I've put them here is out of my control.

David George said...

Steve, that was the Aussie spectator so will have fallen prey to Facebook's ban on Aussie news content. You could, perhaps, put up a link to this page on the NC Facebook page.
David George.

jb said...

Steve, Isn't Facebook removing news content in Australia?

Keno said...

Some actions of the present Labour government remind me of the heyday of Mr Roger Douglas and the hidden agenda of the 1984 government. e.g. Ms Mahuta’s Maori wards agenda. Another is the requirement to wear face coverings on public transport: at first, until further notice, then for now, finally for the foreseeable future. Politically easing it in. This has the whiff of bad faith at worst or at best a government captured by the health zealots.But ironically, our government says the Australian federal government has shown bad faith over the pending deportation of an alleged terrorist woman and her children!

Doug Longmire said...

Replying to Mark:-
Actually New Zealand does sell coal to China and India, and will continue doing so until the Green Marxists insist that it is stopped. like the oil exploration was in Taranaki.

There are two points:
a/ NZ's role in the whole "emissions" scenario is so minute that it is below the margin of error.
b/ On current track record, the climate is changing and the globe is, by fits and starts, warming up slowly, as it is emerging from an Ice Age that ended about 1850. This warming is a natural process and is not caused by human CO2 emissions or cow farts. There is no apocalypse coming soon, just a gradual warming, with much higher global crop yields due to plants having more C02, - the basis of all life on earth.

Trev1 said...

@Doug Longmire. I agree with your comments on climate change. Water vapor is the most powerful greenhouse gas - why isn't that constrained under the Paris Agreement? And what does the phrase "pre-industrial levels" mean, when were these levels measured and what is the baseline temperature we are meant to keep within 1.5 Celsius of? None of this is defined in the UN Paris Agreement - it's a meaningless expression. Here's a further wrinkle - the Sun last year entered a Grand Solar Minimum, the deepest since the Maunder Minimum of 1645-1710, so the Earth is going to get colder for at least the next 30 years. As the attached scientific paper points out colder temperatures will have an adverse impact on agriculture and famines are a real possibility: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23328940.2020.1796243. Not the time to be reducing agricultural production, but tell that to the ideologues at the Climate Change Commission.

CXH said...

Doug, we need to keep selling our coal to China so they can create the latest reasonably priced knives for the woke to create their newest climate friendly recipes with. The ones that need out of season or out of country products to produce.

Fiona Mackenzie said...

Dont forget, Polynesians colonised the Pacific.