Not as simple as it looks

The international commentariat may be forgiven for believing new PM Chris Hipkins has relaunched the government rather well. 

First a clever pivot to the centre and now a compassionate and inclusive focus on disaster recovery.

Giving credence to rumours that the key strategic brains agreed and executed a skilful change of direction rather well.

Continue reading “Not as simple as it looks”

Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup:  Luxon’s leadership under threat

  • Dr Bryce Edwards writes:

The National Party will be desperate to avoid a repeat of the leadership musical chairs of 2020 when they rolled Simon Bridges as leader, replaced him with Todd Muller, only for Muller to step down after 53 days, leading to Judith Collins taking the party into the election.

But National will currently be considering whether a move needs to be made against leader Christopher Luxon, who continues to struggle and stumble. The party must be tempted to replace him with his high-performing deputy, Nicola Willis, who might be better able to take on Prime Minister Chris Hipkins.

Panicked changes of leadership don’t generally project stability and unity to the public. However, proponents of a leadership change in National might well point to Labour changing from Andrew Little to Jacinda Ardern just seven weeks before the 2017 election, which turned out rather well.

Poor polls for National and Luxon

Luxon’s leadership simply isn’t working. He had a good year in 2022. He managed to unify the party, and provided a fresh contrast to Ardern. But that novelty appears to have faded fast, especially now that Ardern has left. Continue reading “Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup:  Luxon’s leadership under threat”

Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup: Time for a sober discussion about toxicity and personality in politics

  • Dr Bryce Edwards writes:

Since her shock resignation announcement, Jacinda Ardern has been at pains to point out that she isn’t leaving because of the toxicity directed at her on social media and elsewhere, rebutting journalists who suggested misogyny and hate may have driven her from office.

Yet there have been dozens of columns and articles, both domestically and internationally, blaming toxic public criticism for Ardern choosing to step down.

Rising toxicity and polarisation

Although some of the claims about Ardern being hounded from office by “deplorables” are questionable, they reflect the reality of rising toxicity and ugliness in New Zealand politics in recent years. And in terms of the hate that has been directed at Ardern, a substantial proportion of this is clearly gendered. Continue reading “Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup: Time for a sober discussion about toxicity and personality in politics”

Graham Adams: Misogyny, the media and the martyrdom of Jacinda Ardern

A statue of a semi-naked Nick Smith puts the misogyny debate into perspective.  GRAHAM ADAMS writes … 

In the wake of Ardern’s abrupt resignation, the mainstream media are determined to convince us she was hounded from office mainly because she is a woman and had to fall on her sword to escape unrelenting “gendered abuse”.

The fact Ardern has overseen a bonfire of what was a vast store of political capital just two years ago and was facing a resounding defeat at this year’s election has mostly gone unremarked among the flood of columns defending her as the unfortunate victim of trolls and misogynists.

Massey University school of management senior lecturer Suze Wilson even praised Ardern’s bravery in resigning:

“Any woman who finds herself subject to abuse is entitled to do what she needs to do to get on with her life, and we should unequivocally respect and support that. Good on her.”

Journalists generally have bent over backwards to accommodate and excuse Ardern abandoning the “team of five million” at the beginning of an election year — despite the fact that, unlike John Key in 2016, she provided no obvious succession plan or even left her party in a good position to win in October.

A day after she announced her resignation, I received a message from a female journalist in Europe who was perplexed by the reaction of New Zealand media:

“I am surprised to see that many people seem to think Jacinda Ardern resigned in a beautiful manner. Aren’t people angry?”

Well, journalists and commentators are angry — but not at her. The object of their ire is mainly the allegedly mean-spirited, stupid and ungrateful public, who apparently refused to sufficiently acknowledge and respect her virtues as Prime Minister.

Feminist writer Sandra Coney wrote on Facebook:

“New Zealanders… don’t know a good thing when it’s standing in front of them, and happily employ misogynist insults and threats against a young woman admired by the rest of the world.”

Usually, a captain abandoning a sinking ship ahead of the officers, crew and passengers in the first lifeboat available is regarded as an unforgivable act of cowardice. The fact he or she might be tired, or stressed, or overworked never trumps their duty to those in their care.

Astonishingly, in New Zealand, most journalists have preferred to blame the passengers for losing faith in their captain despite the fact she has recklessly steered the ship of state, and her party, onto the rocks. The media appears to believe the passengers are at fault for objecting to the fact Ardern was taking them on a voyage they mostly hadn’t agreed to be on.

Not least, Ardern fronted a pervasive and stealthy push to insert co-governance with Maori into many areas of New Zealand life — from Three Waters and health to education and local government — without having campaigned on it or having a mandate for it.

The increasingly visceral reaction to her steady undermining of democracy, and her government’s general incompetence, seems to be interpreted by many commentators as a case of voters failing her rather than the reverse.

Against reason, we are effectively asked to believe that a nation that gave Ardern an unprecedented majority in 2020 — alongside personal popularity ratings in the 70s that outshone anything John Key achieved — has become a deeply misogynistic nation in just two years.

And this despite the fact Ardern herself has denied that misogynistic abuse played any part in her resignation. As she told Newshub when asked whether misogyny influenced her decision :

”It did not, and my strong message to women in leadership and girls who may be considering leadership in future, this is a place where the foundation was laid long before me to make it possible for us to be in these roles.”

It is evident from many reports that women in politics do receive more personal abuse than men but there is nevertheless a glaring imbalance in the type of abuse each sex gets and how they are expected to deal with it. Male politicians are personally abused in ways that would be unthinkable if directed at females.

In the weekend, Stuff journalist Michelle Duff complained about “gendered abuse” in the case of a bar in Auckland that displayed “a crudely drawn sign announcing a ‘Red Witch Leaving Party’” to celebrate Ardern’s resignation.

Stuff journalists also highlighted a social media ad for discounted drinks at a Nelson bar that featured a graphic of her being fed into a wood chipper being towed by a hearse.

When the reporter asked if the general manager would “consider making posts that uplifted women”, he responded:

“Would you be giving me the same phone call and asking the same question if it was the National Party in power and Mr Luxon was going through the chipper?”

And there’s the rub. Men — and particularly those on the right — are considered fair game.

The left erupted in cheers on social media when Ardern was outed for having called David Seymour an “arrogant prick” in Parliament at year’s end, but it would be impossible for Seymour to call Ardern an “arrogant bitch” and not be swamped by a tsunami of condemnation.

The glaring double standard in what abuse is tolerated for men and women is perhaps best exemplified by the reaction in 2017 to a five-metre-high statue of then Environment Minister Nick Smith showing him defecating as he crouched over a glass with his genitals exposed.

Artist Sam Mahon made the statue as a protest over Smith allegedly allowing the pollution of our waterways. Not only did Mahon parade the statue outside Environment Canterbury’s offices in central Christchurch, it received widespread coverage both locally and overseas, including by the BBC.

Mahon defended his statue to the NZ  Herald:

“As far as displaying Nick’s genitals to the world, perhaps the [Ecan] CEO Bill Bayfield has never entered a gallery or visited the Vatican City and cast his gaze on the multitudinous penises in bronze and marble that swarm around the square, much to the delight of children, the Pope and one or two extraordinary cardinals,” he said.

Imagine the uproar if an artist made a similar statue of Ardern — naked from the waist down squatting over a glass — and then dismissed critics as prudes.

RNZ interviewed a woman in the crowd of 50 supporters who watched the statue being positioned. The reporter identified her as Donna Miles-Mojab, who voiced her approval of the statue.

“This speaks to an important issue of our time,” she said. “People are really concerned about the state of our water. It speaks truth to power — which is exactly what art should do.

“It’s very difficult to look at Nick Smith again and not think about the degradation of water at his hands.”

Not long before Mahon’s protest, Smith said he had rat poison rubbed in his hair and clothes at a Nelson market as a protest against his advocacy of 1080 drops. A woman was later found guilty of offensive behaviour.

In stark contrast, Michelle Duff’s weekend column included examples of the sexism Ardern faced that included Paula Bennett telling Ardern to “Zip it, sweetie” and the placard a farmer had held at a protest in Morrinsville that declared Ardern to be a “pretty communist”.

At the time, Ardern sensibly laughed when she was asked about the sign, and quipped:

“I’m a pretty communist? Did they intend that to be a compliment or an insult? I’m not entirely sure.”

On Waitangi Day in 2016, a nurse, Josie Butler, threw a dildo at Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce that struck him in the face. The image of the pink dildo looming large over Joyce’s surprised face was lampooned around the world — including on Jon Oliver’s satirical TV show with a worldwide audience in the millions. Oliver included a segment devoted to dancing giant dildos and a clip of Sir Peter Jackson waving a New Zealand flag with an image of a dildo on it.

Yet the uproar if Ardern were to be struck in the face with a dildo, or any other object, hurled at her by a man, would be tumultuous and overwhelmingly condemnatory of the “misogyny” motivating the assault. No one in the media would dream of celebrating such an act.

Certainly, journalists would not be lionising the thrower in the way “dildo girl” Butler was. She told Stuff the moment she did finally throw the dildo felt “fantastic”.

“I recommend it to everybody. It felt really empowered like, ‘You don’t actually own me, you don’t have all the power here, I have some power too.’”

Yet, Joyce — dubbed “Dildo Baggins” — was expected to take the assault and the humiliation with good humour, which he did, referring to it as part of “the privilege of serving”.

There are many other examples where male politicians are expected to take being humiliated publicly about sexual and bodily matters as good sports in ways that no one would dare try with female politicians.

Who would dare ask a senior female politician — let alone the soon-to-be former Prime Minister, who has admitted to dyeing her hair — if the “curtains match the carpet”? Well, Winston Peters did that in 2015 as a jibe in Parliament at John Key apparently dyeing his hair.

When The AM Show host Ryan Bridge asked Ardern in 2020 if she had dyed her hair because it was greying, he received an avalanche of hate mail.

Ardern is hardly alone in receiving threats. Nick Smith said he had faced death threats as Environment minister, and former Labour Cabinet minister Richard Prebble wrote in the NZ Herald last week:

“I received many threats including death threats. The police insisted on prosecuting two — one who physically attacked me outside a public meeting and another who sent a white powder through the post claiming it was anthrax. I had a Doberman and a huge German Shepard for a reason.”

The mainstream media have also conveniently forgotten the song “Kill the PM” in 2014 that announced an intention not only to kill John Key but also to have sex with his daughter.

Max Key told a NetSafe conference in Auckland in 2016 that he received “death threats twice a week”.

The abuse continues. An image of Chris Luxon’s bald head repeated in a stack of folded newspapers that unfortunately resembles a penis has appeared widely on social media and even on reputable blogs. And dismissing him as a “stale, pale male” is so common on social media it seems unremarkable.

The most egregious example of the double standard in recent times, of course, was US porn star Stormy Daniels’ detailed description in her memoirs of Donald Trump’s penis and sexual prowess, or lack of it.

Those details of her intimate relationship with him were widely reported in the world’s media in late 2018 — including in New Zealand. Yet it is unimaginable that a lover who described a senior female politician’s genitalia and sexual performance so graphically in print would receive anything but reactions of pronounced disgust if not revulsion.

They would certainly never be able to find a reputable publisher.

Daniels’ memoir, Full Disclosure, was published by St Martin’s Press, one of the world’s biggest English language publishers. The descriptions of Trump’s penis were widely used as a teaser for interviews and in reviews.

It became a best-seller.

Ironically, Ardern has been complicit herself in an extraordinary legislative move to make misogyny official government policy.

The passing of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act in 2021 — which introduces a self-identification process for changing the sex shown on a person’s New Zealand birth certificate — effectively makes being a woman a state of mind.

By making the definition of a woman a moveable feast that includes biological men she has helped erase the scientific and common-sense definitions that underpin women’s sex-based rights.

Now that’s misogyny.

    • Graham Adams is a freelance editor, journalist and columnist. His article was first published (HERE) on The Platform.

Our politicians have swarmed to Ratana where Hipkins may cause some buzz when he explains his co-governance thinking

Buzz from the Beehive

Yet another day has passed without Ministers of the Crown posting something to show they are still working for us on the Beehive website. Nothing new has been posted since January 17.

 Perhaps the ministers are all engaged in the bemusing annual excursion by politicians of many stripes and a pack of political journalists to Rātana, a small pā between Whanganui and Bulls.

As Stuff explains in a report today, the pā is home to the Rātana Church, a movement started by Tahupōtiki Wiremu Rātana about a century ago.

 Followers of Te Haahi Rātana and politicians from across Parliament travel to Rātana, to celebrate the birthday of the prophet, Tahupōtiki Wiremu Rātana​, who founded the faith. He was born on January 25, 1873​.

Although politicians tend to stay at Rātana for just one day, the celebration lasts an entire week.

This year, politicians are visiting on Tuesday ahead of the major church celebrations on Wednesday.

 Politicians seems to have become impelled to pay homage to this Ratana fellow because…

From the 1930s, Tahupōtiki Wiremu Rātana harnessed the power of his church to influence Parliament, setting out to have Rātana members win the Māori electorates.

When they succeeded, he instructed the Rātana MPs to support Labour and, at the time, leader of the Opposition Michael Joseph Savage.

 This was the start of a powerful alliance between Rātana and Labour.


Although the political relationship started with Labour, parties from across Parliament now visit Rātana.

Their speeches tend to be the start of the political year, as politicians return after their summer break.

We can only wonder why the Nats bother to turn up and try to curry favour. They have never won a Maori seat and are never likely to win one.  

We do know why the media have turned up in force.

As RNZ reported today, Jacinda Ardern will deliver her final speech as prime minister this afternoon at Rātana Pā . 

Incoming Labour leader Chris Hipkins will then follow. National leader Christopher Luxon will also attend the event Tuesday morning for the first time.

The annual political pilgrimage traditionally marks the beginning of the political year, though Ardern’s announcement last week saw that superseded.

The event will serve as a de facto farewell for Ardern and a test of both Hipkins’ and Luxon’s connection with Māoridom.

Ardern’s last speech?

We looked for it on the Beehive website.

It isn’t there yet.

We looked, too, for Hipkins’ speech and for signs of how he will be handling the highly contentious issues of Three Waters and, more fascinating, co-governance (which he says has not been explained properly).

His speech hasn’t been posted on the Beehive website, either.

But on the Homepaddock website, we were reminded of Hipkins’ thinking at the time (not too long ago) when the Government attempted to entrench part of the Five Waters legislation .

Homepaddock huffs that this was an abuse of power and an attempt to pervert democracy.

The post then reminds us of who said what, according to the Hansard record of the debate attempting to undo the mess.

SIMON WATTS (National—North Shore): Thank you very much, Madam Chair. It’s a pleasure to rise to speak on Supplementary Order Paper (SOP) 310. And isn’t it ironic that we’re back here in the House when only a few—or literally last week, or the week before, we were in here under urgency undertaking a debate in the committee of the whole House stage lasting nearly 10 hours and a debate that went well into the night and bright and early in the next morning. But the fact is, we’re here today because of, basically, a significant mistake that was made on that evening. And there should be lessons that are taken from what occurred at that point from the Government, in terms of the decisions that were made and the impact of that decision, in terms of the controversial nature of it—and also, I think, what was a dangerous precedent in terms of our democracy. . . 

So I go back to my questions to the Minister: how did we get to where we are today? This is not a new concept. Never in the history of this country have we seen an ability or an action by a Government to try and institute entrenchment around such public policy. This was well understood. So what does that say about this Government and their ability to make decisions and to lead this country into the future? Whether this mistake was deliberate, or simply one where Government of the day here did not care—irrespective; it doesn’t matter. The reality is the decision was made, the vote was taken, and we are now dealing with a colossal mess of having to reverse that change and that is completely inappropriate in a democracy such as ours in this country—one of the earliest and longest-lasting democracies—to have that occur. 

NICOLA WILLIS (Deputy Leader—National): Today we have the grovelling back-down, but the stain on our democracy, the damage to our constitution, will remain. And that must sit on the conscience of the members opposite, who sought, under urgency, in the dark of the night, to entrench a policy position against all constitutional norms, against all democratic norms. Not content with confiscating community – owned water assets, not content with introducing a byzantine co-governance structure without the support of the people, not content with riding roughshod over the hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders who have spoken out against three waters reform, of the councils up and down the country who have begged to maintain ownership and control of their assets, this Government thought it would push its votes even further. And it took the extraordinary, unprecedented, non-constitutional step of entrenching a matter of public policy.

Hon Chris Hipkins: It’s not non-constitutional, otherwise it wouldn’t have passed.

NICOLA WILLIS: And these are not my words, Minister Hipkins. These are the words of the New Zealand Law Society, who said that it was undemocratic, constitutionally objectionable, and inappropriate. And be that on the conscience of the members opposite, that when given the opportunity that is how they sought to abuse their seats in Parliament. . . 

Now, I think my colleague Simon Watts has been charitable. He’s accepted that this was a grand and incompetent mistake. I’m inclined to see something a little darker going on here, which is that the members opposite thought they could get away with it—they thought they could get away with it. That is the arrogance that has set in to this Government—that they are prepared to thumb their noses at basic principles of our democracy if they think they can get away with it. Well, they got caught this time. They tried doing it under urgency, they tried doing it at night, and they got caught. And I say thank you to the constitutional experts and lawyers across the country who raised the red flag and said, “No, not in our New Zealand.” Because we can too easily take for granted the principles that have underpinned the continuous democracy that we have in this country, the unwritten constitution which has been respected by blue Governments, red Governments, and all the bits in between, but it took a Labour-led Government with its majority to abuse those principles.

And today in the House, they attempt to turn back the clock. Well, New Zealand will not forget, because those who are prepared to act in an antidemocratic way when they think people aren’t watching, they are people that can’t be trusted. And this is not the first step. First they came for one person, one vote with the Rotorua bill. Then they decided to push on with three waters without public mandate nor council consent. Then they went for entrenchment. New Zealanders will remember. And when you’ve woken up and decided who you’re going to blame, they’ll be listening and they will remember that the only people to blame are the Labour Party, its leadership, and every member opposite. . . 

The leader has changed but the rest of the caucus has not, Homepaddock points out.

They’ll be trying to convince us they can be trusted to have another term.

The only way to ensure they can’t abuse voters’ trust is to vote them out.

The Homepaddock post gives us a welcome reminder of Hipkins’ feeble grasp of what is constitutionally acceptable and what is not.  



The Hipkins bit of the conjecture about Labour’s leadership has been settled – now for the deputy’s job (and diversity)

Buzz from the Beehive

Because our hard-working Ministers of the Crown are engaged in Labour Party caucus stuff in Napier, no doubt jockeying to ensure they keep their jobs or get a better one, Point of Order was not surprised to find no fresh news on the Beehive website this morning.

Nothing has been posted since January 19, when we learned –

General Election to be held on 14 October 2023

The 2023 General Election will be held on Saturday 14 October 2023, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today.


 Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announces resignation

Jacinda Ardern has announced she will step down as Prime Minister and Leader of the Labour Party. Her resignation will take effect on the appointment of a new Prime Minister.

This second post led to a flurry of media scribblings and babblings about why Ardern had quit and who would succeed her. Continue reading “The Hipkins bit of the conjecture about Labour’s leadership has been settled – now for the deputy’s job (and diversity)”

Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup:  Why Jacinda Ardern’s resignation changes everything

  • Dr Bryce Edwards writes:

Should New Zealand have a snap election? That’s one of the questions arising out of the chaos of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s shock resignation.

There’s an increased realisation that everything has changed, and the old plans and assumptions for election year have suddenly evaporated. So, although Ardern has named an election date of 14 October there’s some good reason for the new prime minister to bring that forward to, say, March.

The big issue is one of electoral mandates. Will New Zealanders feel that Prime Minister Chris Hipkins – or whoever is chosen on Sunday – has a truly legitimate right to govern the country? Of course, constitutionally and legally the new PM will be able to govern – the role of PM is merely the choice of the ruling party. And, when Bill English took over from John Key a year out from the 2017 election, there was no expectation that an early election was necessary. Continue reading “Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup:  Why Jacinda Ardern’s resignation changes everything”

A scourge of cockroaches might be among the culprits as commentators conjecture on the PM’s decision to quit

Buzz from the Beehive

There has been nothing fresh on the Beehive website, since Jacinda Ardern gave us a double whammy yesterday –  the announcement of her  resignation and the date (14 October) of the General Election.

But the mainstream media won’t be unduly bothered.  The first of the two posts yesterday looks likely to keep their political reporters and the commentariat busy for some time, mainly with conjecture and speculation about why she really resigned, who will succeed her, how the election campaign will be affected, and so on. 

Her own statement explained: Continue reading “A scourge of cockroaches might be among the culprits as commentators conjecture on the PM’s decision to quit”

PM makes NZ a world leader

The resignation of Jacinda Ardern has already made more global headlines than you might expect for that of the PM of a small commonwealth nation like say Sierra Leone (population 6.5 million) or Singapore (population 5.5 million).

But international observers might not be too surprised by Ardern’s announcement that she has not got enough carbon-based fuel in the tank.  That’s been evident for some time and being PM is a ferociously tough job.

Continue reading “PM makes NZ a world leader”

Yes, the PM did have something to say in Napier – NZ will go to the polls on 14 October (without her leading Labour’s campaign)

Buzz from the Beehive

Hard on the heels of our Buzz from the Beehive earlier today, the PM has made two announcements – the 2023 general election will be held on Saturday 14 October and she will not be campaigning to win a third term as Prime Minister.   She will be stepping down as Prime Minister and Leader of the Labour Party.

Her resignation will take effect on the appointment of a new Prime Minister.

It turns out we were remarkably prescient with the headline on our earlier post: If you are looking for the PM, try Napier – and for good measure she might have something to say.

She did have something to say – something much more momentous than (fair to say) your Point of Order team had expected.

Our earlier post noted that Jacinda Ardern had posted nothing on the Beehive website in the first 18 days of 2023 (but nor had most of her colleagues). Continue reading “Yes, the PM did have something to say in Napier – NZ will go to the polls on 14 October (without her leading Labour’s campaign)”