The US Election: Looking Back, Looking Forward in New Zealand

“Keep me from the man who says, ‘I am a candle to light the people on their way’; but to the one who seeks to make his way through the light of the people, bring me nearer.  – Kahlil Gibran

The reactionary authoritarian movement culminating in the election of Donald Trump as the next President of the United States, preceded by the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, and the rise of authoritarian right wing political parties across Europe and elsewhere, had its genesis in the 1980’s.

It was then that the business and political elites of the Western world overturned the post-WW2 social, political and economic consensus, seized for themselves (again) the reins of power from the people, their organisations and their representatives, and set out to erode the democratic process itself. Neoliberal economic ideology provided the rationale and the vehicle for them to trickle up the wealth of nations from the people into their own hands, all the while extolling the benefits of their ideology through their trickle down propaganda.

Perhaps, despite the enormous potential danger of a Trump presidency, their hubris has finally bitten them on the arse, and perhaps out of the ashes of this catastrophe, the people might regain their place in the democracy. But not of course under Donald Trump. The next few presidencies perhaps. It took over thirty years to get into this mess. It will take quite a few years to climb out of it. And they will be years of turmoil.

The danger is that the political hijackers will take us in an entirely different direction. Into something resembling fascism, in which the business elites will prosper even more at the expense of the people, and democracy will die a faster death than it has been doing under the neoliberal social, political and economic paradigm.

I’ve been waiting for over thirty years for something like this to happen. And yet I haven’t a clue what is happening. I can only watch and document it as it happens.

In the 1980’s and 1990’s I chronicled some of it as it affected Maori. It has been an interesting few hours looking back over what I wrote at the time. It might be worth reflecting on how we got to this point. In a book review on 10 October 1988 we see how the authoritarian right was always there, sheltering behind the libertarian right, poised to take over the reins of power if and when the opportunity arose.

In the United States and United Kingdom, as it is in New Zealand. Perhaps in New Zealand we will be sheltered from the worst of it by our MMP electoral system. Perhaps not.

One thing is certain. Change is upon us, once again.

Looking back.

19 September 1988

Pakeha Networks

The networks of Maoridom are well understood by Maori people, and are totally impervious to the eyes of most Pakeha.

The networks of the Pakeha centre and left (including unions, Labour Party, peace movement, women’s movements) are also well known. Indeed many Maori people are involved in these Pakeha networks. Maoridom is also well acquainted with sporting networks (at the players’ level rather than the power level).

The networks of the Pakeha Right are not so well known these days.

As a boy I grew up under the benign influence of the old Right. In Ngati Kahungunu we were colonised by such families as Williams and Ormond. They bought the land, converted it into the very image of rural England, populated it with their subjects (white and woolly, but four-legged), and set themselves up as a colonial version of the English aristocracy.

They became the Sheepocracy.

Ngati Kahungunu was the labour force which kept the sheepocracy in the manner they aspired to. Which was not all bad. Maori contractors cleared the land, built the fences, and stripped the wool from the sheep. Good times for the sheepocracy meant good times for Ngati Kahungunu.

The Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa sheepocracy, and others like them all over the country, spread their networks deep into the business world. They dominated the boards of the meat and wool industry, and the rest of the business sector, which existed primarily to serve their interests.

Through the National Party they controlled the political life of the country for most of the last fifty years.

With the destruction of the meat industry, and the decline of the wool sector, they have finally lost the almost total grip they had on New Zealand.

I used to dream of the day it would happen; of the day when their power would be broken.

But they have been replaced by a powerful city-based elite, the libertarian Right.

The sheepocracy never ever considered sharing power with Maoridom, but they acknowledged our existence, and until recent years depended on our labour for their own lifestyle.

The libertarian Right has no use for us whatsoever. We are no longer needed to fuel the farms and the factories of the sheepocracy. The new elite don’t need us in their kingdom at all; in the finance sector.

What is the libertarian Right?

They are the very people who have been idolised in the Pakeha media for the last five years. They are the swashbucklers of the money markets, the corporate raiders, the property spectaculators, the take-over buccaneers, the Americas Cup admirals.

Their organisations are the Business Roundtable, and the NZ Centre for Independent Studies (a think-tank). An Australian think tank, the Centre of Policy Studies at Monash University, does work for both Treasury and the Business Roundtable. These think tanks are tools of the libertarian Right.

They read the National Business Review. They no longer owe allegiance to the National Party. They will support whomsoever will support them – like Roger Douglas.

Much of their impetus comes from the Chicago School of economists, from Milton Freidman and others of the “monetarist” persuasion. They are advocates of the free market. They are dedicated to the cult of individualism, and to the belief that what is good for them is good for the country.

Their central belief is totally opposed to the value system and cultural community that is Maoridom.

For instance the NZ Centre for Independent Studies, in conjunction with the National Business Review, has brought to New Zealand a Dr Thomas Sowell for a series of seminars. Dr Tom is an American Black who has a PhD in economics from the University of Chicago.

He is a strong opponent of positive discrimination and affirmative action in favour of racial minorities. He has been brought to New Zealand to speak [against] positive discrimination in favour of racial minorities in employment, and the economy as a whole.

To my knowledge this is the first overt foray into racial issues by the libertarian Right. It brings into the open their stance on these issues, cloaked in economic terms.

The theories of the libertarian Right have penetrated the very bastions of the State, to Treasury and the Reserve Bank. They are being adopted by the whole of the State Sector as practitioners of the libertarian Right spread their networks into powerful and influential places.

Who are they?

The libertarian Right is a network of likeminded people. In listing the following people “Te Putatara” does not wish to convey the impression of a conspiracy. The aim is simply to show the extent of the network.

They are listed in no particular order.

(Sir?) Alan Gibbs of Gibbs Securities, friend of Roger Douglas, chairman of the Forestry Corporation, author of the Gibbs Report on the health services, member of the Business Roundtable, and responsible for bringing the Centre for Independent Studies from Australia to New Zealand.

Professor Richard Manning of Canterbury University where many Treasury staffers have been educated, and who is involved in the Centre for Independent Studies.

Professor David Emanuel of Auckland University and the Centre for Independent Studies.

Max Bradford, formerly of Treasury, then the Bankers Association, and currently secretary-general of the National Party. Involved with the Centre for Independent Studies.

Rob Cameron, formerly a senior member of Treasury (co-authored briefing papers to the incoming Labour Government in 1984), and now an executive of the Centre for Independent Studies.

Ian Douglas of Renoufs and formerly a chairman of the NZ Planning Council.

Roger Kerr, ex-Treasury (another author of the 1984 briefing papers), now executive director of the Business Roundtable. An important link between the business sector and the mandarins of the new public sector.

Sir Ron Trotter, chairman of the Business Roundtable etc.

Allan Hawkins (Equiticorp), David Richwhite (Fay Richwhite), Peter Francis (Chase Corporation), Doug Meyers (Lion), and Robson (Independent Newspapers) are all involved with the Business Roundtable.

Rod Deane formerly deputy governor of the Reserve Bank, then Chairman of the State Services Commission and now Chief Executive of the Electricity Corporation. Also a trustee of the Centre for Independent Studies.

Graham Scott, another co-author of the 1984 Treasury briefing papers, and now Secretary of Treasury.

Sir Ron Brierly, chairman of the Bank of New Zealand, etc.

Jaz McKenzie, Secretary for Labour.

John Fernyhough of the Lion Foundation, colleague of Douglas Meyers, chairman of the Electricity Corporation, deputy chairman of the Forestry Corporation, and long time associate of Alan Gibbs. Reported to have participated in the Centre for Independent Studies. Studied at Chicago University.

Professor Bruce Ross of the Economic Development Commission.

Bryce Wilkinson who co-authored with Graham Scott, Rob Cameron and Roger Kerr the 1984 Treasury briefing papers.

Patrick Duignan who with Rob Cameron wrote another Treasury paper on state-owned enterprises. Doug Andrews who was Roger Douglas’ link with Treasury when Labour was in opposition.

Dr Don Brash, former National Party candidate, and recently appointed as Governor of the Reserve Bank. Prominent as an advocate of the free market and monetarism.

(Sir?) Brian Picot, director of Progressive Enterprises, chairman of Phillips NZ, chairman of Pacific Venture, director of NZI, and author of the Picot Report on education.

Derek Quigley, an early National Party member of the libertarian Right network. Ousted from Cabinet by Sir Robert Muldoon.

Ruth Richardson, Opposition spokesperson on finance.

Simon Upton, National MP for Raglan. One of the few who can argue his position from an intellectual and philosophical base rather than from economic prejudice.

Roger Douglas who has given his name and his political clout, along with that of Richard Prebble, to the work of the libertarian Right network.


Te Putatara wishes to acknowledge its debt to Bruce Jesson, political columnist with “Metro”, author of “Behind the Mirror Glass”, and editor of “The Republican” magazine, for his research on the libertarian Right.

Readers wishing to study the subject in more detail should read “Behind the Mirror Glass”, Bruce Jesson, Penguin, 1987. “The Republican” is available on subscription ($15 for six issues) from P.O.Box 22-263, Otahuhu, Auckland 6.


Much of what has been done to restructure the economy and the state in the last five years certainly needed to be done. Few would deny that.

However, the paucity of social experience and social conscience in Treasury, coupled with extreme right wing zeal, has turned the process into an absolute nightmare.

The restructuring of the rest of the state sector has been justified by Treasury on the grounds of efficiency and effectiveness. There is an even more compelling reason to restructure the treasury system – Democracy.

10 October 1988

BOOK REVIEW: A Study in Right Wing Politics – A Must for Maoridom

“Revival of the Right. New Zealand Politics in the 1980s”, A new book by Bruce Jesson, Allanah Ryan and Paul Spoonley. Heinemann Reed, Auckland, 1988. $19.95.

The September issue of Te Putatara drew heavily on the work of Bruce Jesson and his analysis of the libertarian right. Coincidentally a new book by Jesson and two members of Massey University’s Department of Sociology has just been published.

In this book the three authors combine to describe the right wing in New Zealand, both the libertarian right and the authoritarian (moral) right. These two strands are loosely linked as the new right. The authors collectively describe the philosophical and political origins of right wing belief in the western world, then in a chapter each they provide more detail.

Jesson gives a history of the libertarian right in New Zealand, outlines its rise to pre-eminence in the intellectual, political and economic life of the country, and updates its progress to the present. I believe that it is important for Maori leaders at local, regional, and national levels to understand the libertarian right and its ideology. This chapter is a must.

The chapters by Ryan and Spoonley which cover areas we are probably more aware of, are equally informative.

Ryan gives an overall view of the authoritarian right and its preoccupation with feminism, abortion, sex education, pornography, and homosexuality. She also discusses the politics of the authoritarian right, its new found enthusiasm for the economics of the libertarian right, and its links with fundamentalist and evangelical Christianity.

Spoonley, who has previously written on racism and ethnicity, looks closely at four other issues of the authoritarian right; anti-communism, pro-contact with South Africa, anti-peace movements, and anti-biculturalism. The most significant issue raised by Spoonley is the growing racism of Pakehas.

In New Zealand overt racism has in the past been largely confined to the authoritarian right, and to extremist groups such as the League of Rights. [Incidentally Bob Martin, Welsh activist, retired fisherperson, and grandfather of two lovely part-Pakeha children, is the patron of one such group called the One New Zealand Foundation.]

However there is now a newer and more publicly acceptable form of racism. It includes the belief that when different races and cultures come into contact there is competition for resources. This is seen to generate suspicions which are entirely “natural”, and just part of human nature [see the Treasury definition of discrimination in Issue No.9/88].

With these and other justifications being developed by the libertarian right, “racial prejudice” can therefore be denied. The sophisticated racism of the libertarian right also provides a subtle vehicle for the extremists of the authoritarian right.

Spoonley states: “…the arguments will focus on the need to encourage a national will as a basis for economic growth and prosperity.”

“Biculturalism will be defined as subverting free-market capitalism, as undermining the competitive and academic elements of education, and as dividing New Zealand by emphasizing minority, rather than majority interests.”

“Already, libertarian right activists such as Bob Jones and Winston Peters, along with publications such as Metro and More, have expressed these arguments.”

“A new racism has emerged.”

On this issue the two strands of the right have a common cause. Pakeha racism is therefore becoming more entrenched and is settling in for the long term.

[For Maori people this development has long term implications. Governments come and go, but the libertatrian right has installed itself in the highest levels of the public service, and will be there for two generations at least. It is already generating justifications such as “mainstreaming” for the new face of racism, and it has a long way to go. Never mind what the politicians meant in “He Tirohanga Rangapu”; watch how the Mandarins of the libertarian right implement it in the years ahead].

The final chapter, “Reclaiming the Debate”, contains the “separate reflections” of the three authors. They suggest “new ways to recast current debates about the form and future of New Zealand society.”

The reflections are informative but contain no suggestions for Maoridom to reclaim the heights. We shall have to develop those strategies for ourselves.

A good book to have.

To those more attuned to the cut and thrust of intellectual debate on the marae it may at first seem too Pakeha to be bothered with. I suppose those educated only in the Pakeha university tradition have the same problem within the Maori intellectual framework.

However the book is worth getting into. The advantage in being Maori is in understanding both intellectual traditions.

 22 January 1989

Look in the bed, not under it!

This article is written by a retired NZ Army officer who served Queen and Country diligently and honourably for twenty years at peace and at war; an officer and a gentleman (mostly), a pillar of the establishment (Still, I tell you! Still!).

For all of those twenty years the official “enemies” of the state were the communists, and other less than loyal fellow travellers of the left. We were as a nation urged to beware of the red menace (Reds under the Bed) and the yellow peril. At various times these took the form of Russians, Chinese, and Vietnamese. At home we were warned of the evil Ken Douglas and arch-commo Bill Anderson of the Socialist Unity Party, and of the Communist Party of New Zealand.

The preoccupation with the “enemies of the left” reached its heights in the prosecution/persecution of Dr William Sutch by the government of the day for his alleged collaboration with the Russians. A former senior public servant, Sutch was presumed to have left his protégés buried deep in the public service, and after his public denunciation the Government went to great lengths to root out his influence.

Sir Robert Muldoon made an art form of commie-bashing (along with academic bashing, economist bashing, journalist bashing, union bashing, anti-tour activist bashing, and Maori activist bashing). Unionist turned capitalist Rob Campbell was consigned by public condemnation to surreptitious membership of the Socialist Unity Party for daring to stand up to Muldoon.

Well? After all those years of vigilance did New Zealand survive the holocaust?

After three decades of disastrous economic management, by both National and Labour, the social cohesion of the country is close to destruction.

Ironically the coup de grace was delivered not by our traditional enemies on the extreme left, but by our “friends” in the extreme centre and on the extreme right.

Close to 200,000 will soon be unemployed, the farming sector all but collapsed, the manufacturing sector is reeling, the share market has crashed, untold thousands of small investors have lost their life’s savings, some of the largest companies in the country have collapsed or lost millions of other people’s money, and there is more to come. [As the final edit is being done Equitycorp crashes]. The nation’s capital assets have been stripped. Muldoon’s “ordinary blokes” and their families are hurting – deeply.

Maoridom again bears the brunt of it, and the Pakeha politician drags up his trustworthy “race relations” drum to beat. It takes people’s minds off the real issues.

Dr Bill Sutch was robbed of his reputation, and eventually his will to live. His followers were hounded from the public service. Even if he was guilty as Muldoon has avowed, history will record that he did little real long term harm to the nation.

Senior public servant Dr Graham Scott and senior quasi-public servant Dr Rodney Deane of the libertarian right are still at large, both hugely rewarded for their contributions to the state of the nation today. The grapevine reports that with salary and perquisites they are both close to $250,000 per annum. No wonder they keep their salaries secret!

Sir Robert Muldoon, Roger Douglas, Richard Prebble and Trevor de Cleene have all fallen from grace, but their many supporters on both sides of the House remain in power.

Let those who would find a new enemy in the guise of Maoridom beware. Beware, for the real enemy is closer to home. Look in the bed as well as under it. That is the lesson of the last thirty years for Pakeha New Zealand#

20 February 1989

Prime Minister Pokes Treasury

Predictably, the Treasury opposed a proposal for women to get equal pay for work of equal value on the grounds that it would not be good for the economy.

The Right Honourable Mr David R. Lange stated that Treasury would have been opposed to the abolition of slavery. He’s right. Treasury IS opposed to the full recognition of the Treaty.

20 May 1989

Parliament – What a Hard Case!

Just in case you don’t know what’s going on down here. There are something like six, or maybe sixteen, or even 97 parties in Parliament.

There’s the Government which is the Tired Old Labour Party, the Jim Anderton Leadership Crusade which is the New Old Labour Party, and Roger Douglas’ Funnybone Club which is the Funny New Labour Party. Some people belong to all three parties.

On the other side there’s Jim Bolger’s Sad Old National Party, the Peters & Muldoon Charade which is the Sad & Lame Old National Party, and Ruth Richardson’s Radicals who are the Funny Old New National Party. Some people belong to none of them.

On our side of the House there’s the Cyclone Koro Party which is sometimes a tuturu Maori party, sometimes a Tired Old Labour Party, sometimes a New Old Labour Party, and sometimes a Funny New Labour Party. Good strategy Koro. Keep yourself guessing.

There’s also the Ratana Party with Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan which is certainly tuturu Maori. At the moment I think the Ratana Party will be having difficulty working out which Labour Party it had a deal with. E Whetu, I think that was Te Old Old Labour Party.

The Bruce Gregory Labour Party which is also tuturu Maori (and definitely Labour) gets upset with all the Labour Parties from time to time because they don’t take any notice of him, so it must be counted as a Labour party on its own.

Finally we have the Peter Tapsell Party which tends to be a bit to the right so it could be part of the Funny New Labour Party, but then again it could be part of the Funny New National Party. On the other hand it’s pretty conservative so it could be part of the Tired Old Labour Party, or the New Old Labour Party, the Sad Old National Party, or the Sad & Lame Old National Party. Or perhaps the Old Old Labour Party too.

Outside the House we have the Mana Motuhake Party which is a tuturu Maori party but wants to do a deal with the New Old Labour Party. You should have learned your lesson by now Matiu; they only want your votes, not your kaupapa.

Then we have the Socialist Unity Party which is telling everyone to stay in the Tired Old Labour Party, and the NZ Democrats Party which is telling everyone to join the Gary Knapp Self-Admiration Party. Bruce Beetham, who was the one who changed the Social Credit Political League into the NZ Democrats Party, is now back in the Social Credit Party: or is it the Bruce Beetham Nostalgia Party?

E hoa ma, you can’t blame all these MPs for voting for themselves to be leader. There’s so many parties they can all be leader if they want to! I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up with more Pakeha political parties than Maori tribes. That would be a real rabble wouldn’t it? They do a lot more fighting than the iwi eh.

All the sensible people I know have joined the Don’t Know Don’t Care Party. All the porangi ones are joining me in the Mad Hatters Tea Party.


20 July 1989

The War of the Blowfly

Paul Holmes ran a show about gun-running and landing craft in Tai Tokerau. E hoa ma, I think there really ARE things like that going on up there. But it’s not Ngati Whatua, Ngapuhi, or even those shady Aupouri. It’s the Pakeha himself.

True, e hoa ma, the kumara vine has secret intelligence that the South Island has declared war on the North Island!

Long, long ago during the reign of Sir Robert the Great (Muldoon silly, not Jones), those South Islanders started to get real hoha because the North Island was pinching all their electricity and not giving anything in return. Their economy got so bad all the people were leaving for Queensland, and they were in grave danger of being overrun by sheep and blowflies.

Those wily Ngai Tahu strategists saw this happening and began to organise a takeover. The situation was dangerous. So the South Island devised a strategy to conquer the North, using the North’s own weaknesses to destroy itself.

This strategy is known as the War of the Blowfly, so called because it is the tiny blowfly that would defeat the mighty sheep.

First, they trained heaps of economic saboteurs at the University of Canterbury, and then they started to infiltrate the Treasury and Reserve Bank. Their plan was to use the Freemarket to seduce the greedy business and financial sectors of the North (particularly Auckland), and to induce them to destroy themselves. Some of them got alongside Roger Douglas when he was in opposition and convinced him that he was the Messiah. Then they filled his head with their subversive ideas.

As luck would have it, on a worse than usual night in June 1984, Sir Robert the Great handed the whole country over to them. It caught them unawares but they immediately launched a small invasion on NZ Railways landing craft. E hoa ma, some of you call them ferries. In a single night in June they brought in all their economic shock troops and captured many vital installations in the economy.

I heard their chilling war-cry: “To market, to market, to buy a fat pig!”

After that, their agents in the Labour Caucus got down to some serious brainwashing, and before the month was over they had converted a mildly socialist government into an extreme capitalist enclave. Such was the power of their principal weapon; Treasury-Speak. This was their crowning victory. The takeover was complete.

Those South Islanders didn’t bargain on the resilience of the iwi though. It was Maoridom that used their own “Rule of Law” against them and blunted their attack in the courts.

So they had their propagandists launch rumours and misinformation in the North Island about Maori revolutionaries and about gun-running. This strategy used another of the great weaknesses of Pakeha North Island; their fear of the tangata whenua. Commercial fishermen and dopey farmers have fallen for it and are now armed to the gums.

Every now and then the South sends a real landing craft up to Tai Tokerau. Just to keep the pot boiling. See.

15 July 2000

Our own coup d’etat in Aotearoa New Zealand.

“What I have described ….. is a civilization — our civilization — locked in the grip of an ideology — corporatism. An ideology that denies and undermines the legitimacy of the individual as the citizen in a democracy.” – John Ralston Saul, The Unconscious Civilization, Penguin, 1997.

While the government has been pontificating on the coup d’etat in Fiji, and promoting the cause of democracy, that same government has been quietly brought to its knees by the anti-democratic forces at work in this country. There are no hostages, except that the whole country has been held hostage. The government has surrendered without a fight, and without negotiation.

This quiet coup in which democracy has been denied for at least another three years has been conducted by the business elites. The “business confidence” propaganda carried by the media controlled by those business elites has been the visible weapon they have used to defeat this government. Behind the scenes they have conducted a guerrilla war of muted threats and coercion to force the government to change almost any policy that will bring to an end the 16 year anti-democratic revolution that has taken power from the citizen and delivered it to the corporates, and their political allies.

Since the minority Labour / Alliance government came to power late last year it has spun the fable that it is the mandated government of the people, and that it is intent on closing gaps, promoting regional recovery, and building capacity. But it has all been political dissembling, cloaking reality in propaganda and rhetoric. What has actually happened is that they have given in to the business elites after six months of skirmishing, in the interests of holding on to the illusion of power. Power comes first, and democracy a poor last.

They have proclaimed themselves a policy driven government, and proclaimed their policy making prowess. When put to the test to prove their commitment to their own policy, they failed, and the policy became mere propaganda and rhetoric.


General Elections 2017

Anybody’s guess.