A Cabinet reshuffle must be among the options as Ardern considers how to halt growing public disenchantment

After the excitement of her US visit and White  House call, PM Jacinda Ardern is  now  engaged in  the  harsh realities of  running  a  government that  appears  to be  crumbling  by  the  week.

Ministers  are  tripping  over  themselves – this  week it  was Police Minister Poto Williams who became the   butt  of  Opposition calls  for her  to be  sacked.  Then there  were  the  polls charting  a  governing party’s  falling popularity, despite  a huge spend-up  in the latest budget.

The One News Kantar poll at the end of  May put Labour’s  support  down  at 35%. Then came the Roy Morgan poll which had Labour even lower, at 31.5%.

This is  the sixth Roy Morgan sampling to  show  there would be a change of  government  if there were an election now.  According to Ipsos polling, people rate  National as  more capable than Labour on four out of the five top issues – inflation, housing, health care, petrol prices and  crime).

Just what Labour’s own polling is indicating is being kept a party secret, but it is possibly even grimmer than the public polls because in desperation the  party has been using social media to try  to discredit National’s Christopher Luxon, who had succeeded in hitting the  government  where it hurt by drumming  on the themes  of a cost-of-living crisis and the need for   tax  cuts   in  the  budget. Continue reading “A Cabinet reshuffle must be among the options as Ardern considers how to halt growing public disenchantment”

Attention is drawn to the ethnicity of Tauranga’s MPs (Maori) for more than three decades …

We are grateful to David Farrar for drawing attention to something we overlooked in our report yesterday on the Maori Party’s reason(s) for not standing a candidate in the upcoming by election.   On Kiwiblog today, he reports:

So Tauranga is unsafe for Maori!

Stuff reports:

Te Pāti Māori says it considered standing a candidate in the Tauranga by-election, but opted not to over concerns about safety and racism in the region.

Party president Che Wilson said racism and hate speech in Tauranga made it a “safety issue” for the party to participate in the upcoming by-election.

Astonishing that Tauranga is so unsafe for Maori as it has had a Maori MP for 35 of the last 38 years!

While we are on this topic, did any of the nation’s political journalists ask Wilson why the party did not stand a candidate in that seat in the 2020 general election?

Māori Party by-passes by-election in Tauranga (where it won 0.35% of the 2020 party vote) but scores well with “racism” headlines

The Māori Party could be sure it would generate emotive headlines when it announced it won’t stand a candidate at the Tauranga by-election “on the basis of a safety issue”.

It claimed the party’s co-leaders have received threats and hate speech from residents there.

Stuff ran the news under the headline Racism in Tauranga makes it ‘unsafe’ to enter by-election, Māori Party says.

The by-election, forced by the resignation of National MP Simon Bridges (who is Māori), will take place on June 18.

The candidates confirmed so far include National’s Sam Uffindell, Labour’s Jan Tinetti and ACT’s Cameron Luxton.

Reporting on the Māori Party’s announcement, Newshub said:

Wilson mentioned a Department of Internal Affairs report published in April which showed “hate speech from white supremacists on social media is the largest form of hate speech in this country”.

He said Tauranga is a “hotspot”, with residents being “subjected to white supremacist leaftlet drops“.

The report referenced by Wilson makes no mention of Tauranga. Continue reading “Māori Party by-passes by-election in Tauranga (where it won 0.35% of the 2020 party vote) but scores well with “racism” headlines”

The Nats need to diversify – and if they don’t know what this requires, the Greens and Maori Party can show them the way

Now that the Nats might muster enough votes to forge a right-leaning coalition partnership and oust  the Ardern government at the next election, the commentariate has become agitated on the “diversity” issue. 

Issue?  Newsroom’s Joe Moir calls it a “crisis”.  

National’s just had its first opportunity to deal with its diversity crisis and its response was four white men contesting the Tauranga by-election

There are now more Christophers than there are Māori in the National Party.

This isn’t a new problem for National but Simon Bridges’ exit from politics this week only makes it even more profound.

Moir reports that Bridges’ departure means there are now just two Māori left in the caucus – Shane Reti and Harete Hipango – and the only other ethnic representation amongst National MPs is Korean-born Melissa Lee.

The headline sums this up as Luxon’s big white problem.

Diversity is more vital than ability in the media mindset, it seems, although concerns about an obvious lack of ethnic diversity in the ranks of the Maori Party is unlikely to result in headlines drawing attention to Rawiri Waititi’s big brown problem. 

The Nats shortcomings in the diversity department have been reflected in a raft of media reports over the past year or so.  Among them –

12 October 2020 

How well do political parties represent NZ’s ethnically diverse communities?

The National Party came under fire this year for its lack of diversity after it reshuffled its caucus several times following two leadership changes.

But one of its candidates Christopher Luxon, who is the former Air New Zealand CEO now running in Botany, has taken a bolder stance on the issue in contrast to what his party’s leaders have said this year….

Luxon is standing in the most diverse electorate in the country and he said while the party has a diverse range of experience and skill, diversity of representation matters a lot as well.

May 2 2021

National MPs admit ‘we’ve got some work to do’ on diversity

National MPs admit the party’s “got some work to do” in terms of increasing diversity.

It comes after a review revealed on Wednesday highlighted the need for National to commit to diversity, with a stronger focus on Māori.

The election review panel recommended making Māori a priority area, and suggested they “develop a diversity plan” and “embed diversity across the party’s membership, caucus, candidate and Board”. 

December 6 2021

National ‘has work to do’ on diversity after caucus announced

The National Party has “got work to do” to better its ethnic diversity and gender representation, new leader Christopher Luxon says, following his caucus reshuffle.

Only two Māori and four women now sit on its 12-member front bench, while not a single MP in the 33-member caucus is of Pasifika descent. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who Luxon will face for the first time as National’s new leader on Tuesday, leads one of the most diverse caucuses in history.

But concerns about ethnic diversity don’t necessarily amount to concerns about all ethnicities.  When Simon Bridges announced his retirement, he was asked about how he’d served Māori.

He quite rightly said he was MP for Tauranga, not a Māori seat, and he aimed to offer the best service to whoever walked in as a constituent. But he was proud to have been the first Māori leader of one of the two major parties.

Bridges was elected the party’s first Maori leader in 2018. His deputy leader was Paula Bennett who also is Maori.

The Labour Party has never elected a Maori leader.

But the headline on an article by political analyst Bryce Edwards raised a curious question.  

Political Roundup: Who gets to decide if Simon Bridges is ‘Maori enough?’

Edwards wrote:

There are legitimate and complex questions about the significance of this achievement, including how important it is for Maori voters and for advancing Maori interests, and what impact it might have on politics.

Unfortunately, much of the questioning so far has been along the lines of: How Maori is Simon Bridges really? Is he Maori enough?

I raised this on TVNZ’s Breakfast today, saying “There’s been a lot of people suggesting he’s not really a ‘proper’ Maori, questioning his Maori-ness and I think that won’t go down well with the public and I think it will backfire because it’s becoming increasingly unacceptable really to question whether someone is Maori or not”.

Fair to say, Edwards further noted that most of the questioning of Bridge’s Maori “authenticity” had taken place on social media, especially by some on the political left.  

Paula Bennett was challenged three years ago for not being Maori enough, too.

National’s Paula Bennett says comments calling into question her Māori heritage were ‘racist’

The contretemps in her case was instigated by Labour’s Willie Jackson.

Yesterday, in a speech during Parliament’s general debate, Minister of Employment and Associate Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson took aim at the Māori members of the National Party and called them “useless”.

He outlined a few Māori who he said were “the good ones” but said that “the rest were useless”.

“Paula Bennett – well, she doesn’t know if she’s a Māori. Some days she does and some days she doesn’t. Dan Bidois – he needs to go back to Italy. And Jo Hayes – Jo wouldn’t have a clue,” Jackson said.

Bennett said those remarks “without a doubt” were racist.

“It’s kind of like saying if we’re not like you, and fully entrenched and able to speak the language, then in your mind, we’re lesser Māori – I don’t think that’s necessary,” she told media after question time.

“It’s Parliament, it can get pretty robust. But I think to be calling in if you like, whether we’re Māori enough is just really unnecessary.”

While the National Party grapples with its diversity challenge, the Greens have signalled what diversity means to them  by changing their constitution to abandon its requirement for one male co-leader and one woman co-leader.  The requirement now is one woman and one person of any gender, plus a requirement that one must be Māori.

Co-leader Marama Davidson this afternoon said they were pleased with the changes which focused on a commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

“And proud that the party, the members, have voted in support of constitutional change which upholds Te Tiriti, which centres a framework on Te Tiriti, and far more inclusive representation including that leadership.

“The whole point though is about better representation, more inclusive expectations for leadership and upholding Te Tiriti.”

University of Auckland public policy lecturer Lara Greaves (Ngāti Kuri, Ngāpuhi) told Midday Report the move seemed like a logical next step for the party.

“This kind of just aligns with their values and the direction the party’s heading in.”

“I can see that this is a really important symbolic step for them to go in that direction of trying to pull more of the Māori vote … I can see they’re more moving in that ‘yes we are pro-Te Tiriti, we’re pro-co-governance, we’re pro-Māori’ direction.”

Greaves said it could also pave the way for a change in leadership, with suggestions someone like Chloe Swarbrick could be better in the role, and there had been disquiet about co-leader James Shaw not aligning so well with some of the party’s kaupapa.

Kiwiblog headed its report  

Green Party says it was racist to have Jeanette and Rod as leaders

David Farrar referenced a Herald report on the constitutional change:

The two co-leaders now need to constitute one woman, and one person of any gender (providing leadership pathways for non-binary and intersex). One co-leader also needs to be Māori.

He commented:

So under this new rule, you would never have had Jeanette Fitzsimons and Rod Donald as co-leaders.

It also means that Chloe Swarbrick can’t replace Marama Davidson as a co-leader as Chloe is not Maori. She could replace James though.

Farrar challenged a claim that politics had never provided a “level playing field” for Māori and Pasifika peoples, people of different genders, rainbow communities, and women.


21% of Parliament is Maori – much higher than their share of the adult population.

8% of Parliament is Pasifika – slightly higher than their 7% share of the adult population.

49% of Parliament is female, marginally below their 50.4% share of the adult population.

11% of Parliament is LGBT – much higher than their share of the adult population.

But for now, let’s wait and see what the Tauranga electorate makes of National’s candidate, team and programme.  


Cost of living accounts for some (maybe much) of the shrinkage in support for Labour – but is co-governance a factor, too?

Latest  polling  has  underlined  how  support  for the  government has  eroded  almost  as  fast  as inflation has hit  New Zealand  households.

Both polls  have  National  ahead  of  Labour.  The  difference  is  that the Roy Morgan poll (for  the  fifth time  in a  row)  points to  a  change of  a government  while  the  Newshub-Reid  Research sampling   has  National  only two  points  ahead  of  Labour.

This means that  even with  ACT’s  support, the Nats are still  trailing  parties  of the  Left.

But what stands  out  starkly in  both polls is  how  far Labour’s  support  has  fallen since  it  swept  the  deck in the  last  election.

Equally,  the  polling  underlines  how  well Christopher  Luxon  has  done in  re-energising National  since  he  took  on the  leadership, despite  his  relative inexperience in Parliament and  the  critical exposure   he  gets in  the  state-subsidised  mainstream media.

Here are  the  details  of  the two  poll results  (as  reported  by that expert pollster David  Farrar): Continue reading “Cost of living accounts for some (maybe much) of the shrinkage in support for Labour – but is co-governance a factor, too?”

Who said Shane Jones was all washed-up? Three Waters (and co-governance) have flushed him back into politicking

Shane  Jones — remember  him?- — has  re-emerged  into public life and thrown a  hand grenade  at  the  Labour  government on  its  Three Waters  policy.  He  has  done  so  in  a  think-piece    for  the  op-ed  page  in  the  NZ  Herald  at a  time  when the  Ardern  government thought  it  had  recaptured  the  high ground  in  the nation’s politics, with  its  measures  to  take  the sting   out  of  inflation.

But  Jones’ intervention has  widened   the  battleground.

The  implications, separately,  are  interesting.  Does it  foreshadow  Jones, a  close ally  of  NZ  First  leader Winston Peters,  stepping  back  into  politics?  Could  it  be that  Jones  senses  that here is  the  issue   that could revive  NZ First  from  its  moribund  state?

Of  course, Jones  may  have  compiled  his explosive  piece  on  his  own initiative,  but  as  a  minister  in  the  Labour-NZ  First coalition  from 2017 to 2020,  he   and Winston Peters   always  worked  very  closely  together.  It  was  as if  they  were  soul-mates:   each  had the  gift  of  hitting   a  political nerve.

This  is  the  one  Jones played   on  in   his  NZ  Herald  article: Continue reading “Who said Shane Jones was all washed-up? Three Waters (and co-governance) have flushed him back into politicking”

Boris on the brink

The enemies of British PM, Boris Johnson, smell blood in the water.  They should be careful what they wish for.

A report on partying (social not political) in No. 10 Downing St has been delayed while the police consider the case for prosecution for breach of lockdown regulations; there have been five resignations from his inner circle of staff; and he is being roundly pilloried by the great and good for his diversionary attack on the leader of the opposition Keir Starmer.

According to the bookmakers, it’s odds-on that he will be gone by year end.

Continue reading “Boris on the brink”

Now let’s  see  how  Christopher Luxon  develops the image of  a  “caring” National Party

Only  weeks   into becoming leader  of  the  National  Party, Christopher  Luxon has  succeeded   in  pulling  together   his   troops  and at  the  same  time  re-shaping the  message  he  thinks  is needed  to  attract  back the  413,000 voters who drifted  away  in  the  last  election.  The  question    is  whether  he  can  pitch the message  to  haul  back  some of  those  who  voted for  Labour  in 2017  on  the  basis  of  their  promises, but  have  since  realised Labour ministers  don’t  have  the  ability  or  capacity to   deliver them.

Initially  there  was  some  uncertainty  that  Luxon,  with  only   a  year behind him  as  an MP, could   unify  the  faction-ridden National caucus.  But he  settled  those  doubts  impressively   at  the  two-day  retreat  at  Queenstown,  not   least  with  his two  warring  predecessors,  Judith Collins  and Simon Bridges,  showing up  to  breathe  a  new  spirit  of   sweetness  and  light by  the  lakeside.

Luxon  has  resumed polling  to get  the mood of voters, re-engaging  David  Farrer’s  Curia, and  will  use  the  techniques  refined  by  John Key  and Bill  English of  focus groups and  internal polling   as  new  policies  are  formulated. Continue reading “Now let’s  see  how  Christopher Luxon  develops the image of  a  “caring” National Party”

2022: Trump’s year?

A year on from the Capitol riot which celebrated Joe Biden’s victory in the US electoral college, a lot has changed.

Then again, perhaps not so much.

So if you are keen to understand why half of America doesn’t fully share the orthodox media position you might ponder the concept of “sophisticated state failure” in the words of Holman W. Jenkins Jr writing in the Wall Street Journal.

Continue reading “2022: Trump’s year?”

Boris: holding out till Christmas

We said a few days ago that British PM, Boris Johnson, still looked to be the indispensable man.

It’s hard to tell if subsequent events are qualifying or confirming that.

Two examples.

First, Lord Frost, Minister of State and the government’s EU strategist resigned citing the general drift of policy, most recently towards Covid authoritarianism.

Continue reading “Boris: holding out till Christmas”