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Rage and the Woke

Written By: - Date published: 12:31 pm, June 14th, 2022 - 69 comments
Categories: Deep stuff, racism, treaty settlements, water - Tags:

In a little-publicised piece on the Otago Daily Times, we get just a little reveal of the scale of rage against Prime Minister Ardern and against policies favouring the Treaty of Waitangi.

Two nights ago there was a public meeting in the South Otago Town and Country Club, attended by over 150 people on a full-deep-snow night.

“As the meeting was about to begin, Groundswell New Zealand co-founder Bryce McKenzie delivered a 300-signature petition against the reforms to Mr Cadogan, saying Groundswell believed the council had not acted in ratepayers’ best interests during the legislative process. He called on the council to arrange a public meeting to discuss what he said were widespread concerns regarding the reforms and the role of Local Government NZ in the process.

“That appeared to signal a stream of interruptions, including occasional foul-mouthed abuse, directed at speakers by audience members. (…)

During his presentation, DIA acting Three Waters policy stewardship director Michael Mills said the reforms were not about transferring ownership of assets to Maori interests. In response to loud heckling, Mr Mills explained the Government would meet its Treaty of Waitangi obligations in the incoming reforms.”

This time last year, Groundswell dropped Ross Townshend as a spokesman after a direct and racist tirade on Facebook against Minister Mahuta. He was also fired as Director on Tatua Dairy Company. I’m not going to repeat it here. Instead what they did a year ago was organise a protest of thousands of tractors to intentionally bring all New Zealand’s cities to a standstill – a clear show of force far greater than anything our marches against climate change have ever done.

In May last year in a large Tauranga public meeting, a woman was jeered at by the crowd for starting off her speech in Te Reo.

Racist mail was also delivered in Tauranga suburbs in April this year.

Hate is growing in New Zealand. It is not only directed against Maori. It is also directed against Asians. Last year in a large survey more than 41% of New Zealanders believed that racism had increased in the last year.

This aligned with the 2021 survey by the Human Rights Commission which found that 4 in 10 of the 1,904 respondents had experienced discrimination since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.

In April 29th this year, the Department of Internal Affairs released a report into online extremism within New Zealand for 2021. It concluded that online white supremacy accounted for the largest amount of content that they had investigated.

The anti-vaccination protests at Wellington four months ago have also seen a rise in threats by extremists against the media and against our politicians.

The SIS threat assessment about terror in New Zealand growing from hate-fuelled groups was not alarming in itself:

While some individuals are groups have lawfully advocated for significant change to current political and social systems, there continues to be little indication of any serious intent to engage in violence to achieve that change.”

But then there’s the big caveat:

The situation in New Zealand over the next 12 months is likely to remain dynamic. There is a realistic possibility further restrictions or potential vaccination programmes […] could be triggers for New Zealand-based violent extremists to conduct an act of terrorist violence.”

Prior to the Christchurch massacre the SIS hadn’t mentioned the hard right for a decade.

In 2021 the UK’s Institute for Strategic Dialogue did a study for our DIA. It looked at 300 extremist accounts and 600,000 posts. It’s blunt and confronting reading.

When it came to NZ-origin far-right Facebook pages, there were 750 followers per 100,000 internet users, compared with 399 in Australia, 252 in Canada and 233 in the USA. We were worse in our racism per 100,000 users than Australia, Canada, or the United States.

That shows we have a far, far deeper problem than we might admit.

To just one consequence: threats to life. It is the Prime Minister herself that is the direct target of significantly increasing threat. New data released to Newshub shows that police recorded 18 threats in 2919, 32 the next year, and 50 in 2021.

Researcher Dr Sanjana Hattotuwa said that this year the team had captured “the most significant increase in violent, vulgar, vicious, venomous commentary against the PM since the start of our study in mid-August 2021”.

“The vocabulary … has migrated from implicit and elusive references to her murder, assassination and rape now to explicit calls for it.”

The most significant increase had been in 2021-2022, he said, suggesting that the upward trend captured by police data would continue.”

Threats against our politicians from extremists had been tracked for some time.

It is cold comfort to realise that your policies are directly attacking the deepest sources of power in New Zealand so much that the hard right must threaten ones’ life.

Of course I am probably just being silly identifying rapidly increasing racism.

Too supportive of Maori.

Too much worrying about side issues like women.

Too Woke.

69 comments on “Rage and the Woke ”

  1. Psycho Milt 1

    I know that calling people racists doesn't persuade them of anything, but it's not like rational argument persuades them either and the fact is they are racists. There is no such thing as "I'm not a racist, I just feel the urge to shout abuse every time someone mentions Māori or speaks their language."

    • Just Saying 1.1

      This is not an original observation.

      The idea first struck me during the actions leading to gay (legal) emancipation years ago. It was a brilliant, exuberant march in Wellington. There was goodwill, friendliness and confidence. I saw the cause as important in itself but also as a stepping-stone in the broader cause of freedom.

      What dispirited me that day is something that must have struck so many of us over the years. I don't know why but I thought 'what if this is instead of?' (broad socialist justice).

      In that joyful atmosphere I tried to talk myself out of the idea. Why should it be instead of? etc.

      But the situation we've landed in feels very relevant to this post.

      It is a little like if instead of ending slavery certain enslaved groups were granted freedom because their causes were deemed just. Yet slavery itself never ended. And those fighting for that end were diverted into bickering factions over their own factional allegiances to win their golden tickets.

      And Hey Presto the anti-slavery cause bought in and we ended up with a left-wing hunger games situation.

      I know this will be very unpopular, but the opportunity to split us started with white working class males all those years ago who were unable to extend their thinking beyond their own very worthy cause. The failure of imagination goes beyond this narrowed-down vision of reshuffling the deck in their own favour, to not having a vision outside of 'slavery' altogether, let alone steps to getting there.

      My grandfather was a socialist and part of that labour revolution, and was himself a slaveholder. His wife was his slave. It was just reality to him that he was her master. I doubt he could see it because after all, she was a woman. Yet to the 'owners' he was working to 'overthrow' he was a lesser being, not like their noble selves.

      The point is we seem to be stuck here and a big part of it seems to be the need for a picture of 'there'. A lot of the hatred feels like a logical outcome of getting stuck in fighting over the justice of causes of competing groups, to changing hierarchies rather than the whole idea of equality and freedom within difference on the beautiful planet we have also caused so much harm to, and what could it be.

      I've said this really badly. There has always been an idea that we were moving towards the outcome of freedom whatever that turned out to be, rather than building a template of how it could all work, not as utopia but as a working model of a possible future.

  2. RedLogix 2

    As I stated earlier, my core objection to woke is that takes what are fundamentally good causes and turns them into sources of division and suspicion.

    As your post describes so well.

    • Robert Guyton 2.1

      Groundswell is a "fundamentally good cause"?

      Not feeling' it.

      • RedLogix 2.1.1

        Stick of end wrong.

        • Robert Guyton

          Yes, RedLogix, I do see what you mean. Couldn't help providing an example of others who have firmly grasped the wrong end of the stick.

          Sensitivity to emerging concepts/views/interpretations of what the general populace have regarded as fate accompli, settled-debates such as gender labels (male/female covers it, boy!) is increasingly testing society; it's inevitable and unstoppable, imo. Managing the process of seeing the world through higher definition "glasses", rather than rose-coloured spectacles or blinkers, is the challenge; saying no to the experience (Woke! Woke!) won't do it, nor will, as I think you're indicating, an unrestrained acceptance of "anything goes", that creates "division and suspicion".

          Just Saying just said:

          "But there does need to be a lot more clarity, a lot more explanation and dot-joining. We need open mindedness and the ability to talk." and I support that position.

      • Blade 2.1.2

        Robert, your Freudian slips not only clog threads up – they are embarrassing.

        • Robert Guyton


          Interested to know what Freudian material you see in my comment, Blade.

          Not seeing' it.

          • Nic the NZer

            Don't make Blade go all Freudian Critical Theory on your comment.

          • Blade

            If you can't see it, I'm not mentioning it. Besides, it's of no importance now. You have actually posted a comment consisting of more than two lines. My job here is done.

    • Phil 2.2

      my core objection to woke is that takes what are fundamentally good causes and turns them into sources of division and suspicion.

      This is way too Chicken-and-egg, RL. For instance, whatever wokeness exists within the Trans-rights movement has developed because of the pre-existing conditions and political positions of parties that literally want to deny Trans peoples very existence and pigeon hole them as targets of fear and violence.

      • RedLogix 2.2.1

        Well to expand on the example you have used, it was one thing to ask that trans people should be treated with normal human dignity and to not be discriminated against.

        It was quite another to tell us that biological sex is imaginary. An idea both laughable and distressingly offensive at the same time.

      • Visubversa 2.2.2

        Really? Who denied Laurel Hubbard's existence? Laurel got everything that Laurel wanted. How come Ashley Winter was called a woman and showered with female pronouns in nearly every story in the New Zealand press all through his trial, conviction and sentencing for the torture and murder of a young woman? The New Zealand public was denied the truth that this was not a woman's crime. Nothing marginalised and oppressed there.

    • Drowsy M. Kram 2.3

      …my core objection to woke is that takes what are fundamentally good causes and turns them into sources of division and suspicion.

      That logic seems a bit ‘cart before horse.’

      For example, some label selected anti-racism causes 'woke', but racism is a primary source of division (and oppression). King's "I have a dream", BLM and similar causes are responses to division and suspicion kindled by evidence of race-based inequality. Might sound a bit woke, but best to examine root causes before deploying 'woke' putdowns.

      This Republican senator thinks 'wokeness' is the cause of mass shootings

      • RedLogix 2.3.1

        Consider my response at 2.2.1 above.

        Woke is a lot like marxism in that it takes a reasonable causes – in that case inequality – and applies stupid, vengeful solutions. Then whines that people hate them.

        ‘Oh but we had such good intentions’. pffft

        • Drowsy M. Kram

          Imho 'woke' is a recent and over-used pejorative employed to 'counter' the perceived threats of social justice causes – seems as reasonable an explanation as any of the good Senator's theory to explain school shootings.

          Integrating Antiracism, Social Justice, and Equity Themes in a Biochemistry Class [13 July 2021]

          • RedLogix

            Oh now you want to quibble the meaning of the word.

            Writer and activist Chloé Valdary has stated that the concept of being woke is a "double-edged sword" that can "alert people to systemic injustice" while also being "an aggressive, performative take on progressive politics that only makes things worse".[4]

            As for mass shootings – if there was one singular obvious cause smarter people than us might have spotted it by now. For what it is worth I see it as a complex mix of a society where an otherwise relatively benign gun culture has intersected fatally with gross overuse of dangerous antidepressants, social media toxicity, family breakdown and fatherlessness – and at least some component of the Senator's case which cannot be dismissed entirely.

            Telling an entire generation of young white men they are not only useless, dangerous buffoons who oppress all women, but are also to held guilty for all the racist sins of generations prior – is going to prompt at least some tiny fraction of them to bitterly conclude they might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb.

            • Drowsy M. Kram

              Oh now you want to quibble the meaning of the word.

              Nope; why would you think that? Imho 'woke' is a recent and over-used pejorative employed to 'counter' the perceived threats of social justice causes.

              As I said, it's only my opinion – some representative recent examples of 'woke' being used as something other than a (lazy) pejorative might shift my opinion.


              Your last paragraph is an intriguing, but the critique may be misdirected.

              As for your contention that "Woke is a lot like marxism", it speaks for itself.

              • RedLogix

                Speaks what? Both are cultish mobs who believed their cause so important all things were justified in it's pursuit.

                some representative recent examples of 'woke' being used as something other than a (lazy) pejorative might shift my opinion.

                What I am seeing is lazy reading – insufficient to shift you on anything interesting.

                • Drowsy M. Kram

                  So, not even one recent example?

                  Both [Woke, and marxism] are cultish mobs…

                  I see where you’re coming from – this cause is clearly important to you.

                  insufficient to shift you on anything interesting

                  Seems a tad personal, but right back at ya.

                  Mediation: Embedded Assumptions of Whiteness?
                  We don't propose answers, but rather accept the common adage that the first step is recognizing the issue.

            • AB

              Telling an entire generation of young white men they are not only useless, dangerous buffoons … is going to prompt at least some tiny fraction of them to bitterly conclude they might as well be hung for a sheep

              Indeed it would. Fortunately, nobody who deserves to be taken seriously has really done that. It just feels that way to lots of conservative guys.

              • Ad

                I work in a very large firm of 70% men with conservative bent, and I don't get any of that vibe out of them. On the contrary.

                • AB

                  Good to hear. I have experienced mild forms of it in some workplaces. "Lots" is my unfortunate rhetorical exaggeration.

                • RedLogix

                  Not the demographic with a track record of mass shootings.

                  • Muttonbird

                    That's not what AB was alluding to. AB was saying if feels to a lot of conservative guys that 'woke' people are, "telling an entire generation of young white men they are not only useless, dangerous buffoons".

                    Your every comment on this forum confirms you are one of those conservative guys.

                    • RedLogix

                      Quite the contrary. I am a lot more radical than you. I just don't feel the need to show off about it.

                    • Muttonbird

                      Claims he is radical. Uses the dated, conservative phrase, "quite the contrary".

              • RedLogix

                Well if they "feel" that way it must still be all their fault then.

        • AB

          “… a lot like marxism in that it takes a reasonable causes … and applies stupid, vengeful solutions.”

          Ok let's concede that your point is half-right:

          • the Marx & Engels of the Communist Manifesto produced inflammatory utopian nonsense
          • The Marx of Kapital was a great classical political economist in the western intellectual tradition. His description of how industrial capitalism actually works is far more accurate and astute than the idealised romanticism of Adam Smith etc.
  3. Just Saying 3

    I agree with the problem that the concept of 'woke' is often being used as a means of silencing human rights abuses, and to pretend that we have solved problems that remain unsolved.

    I also get that there is a problem with both shutting down of free speech and of some members of affected groups attempting to leverage their status for unfair advantage, to make dubious demands, or to silence others who have not violated their civil rights. It's worth remembering that everything will be gamed by some, and I do mean everything.

    But that doesn't mean that attempts to correct human rights abuses constitute gaming, or that progress towards legitimate power-sharing constitutes oppression of members of the groups holding power. We still have major problems with oppressing 'outgroups' and with oppressive hegemony. Splitting into all or nothing categories shuts down needed communication.

    This legislation as I understand it, is a positive development, and it is horrible to see knee-jerk denigration of it as 'wokism'. In and of itself 'wokism' is not an argument. If those using the term feel that claims of racism, for example, are empty in and of themselves, without a clear description of how and why, surely it is hypocrisy to not apply the same standard to claims of wokism.

    But there does need to be a lot more clarity, a lot more explanation and dot-joining. We need open mindedness and the ability to talk.

    The protest in Wellington was not ''anti-vaccination'' it was anti-mandate. I'd like clarity about how protesting mandates is supposed to be responsible for ''a rise in threats by extremists against the media and against our politicians”. I'd also like an explanation of why this whole issue was lumped into an argument about bigotry.

    • RedLogix 3.1

      Nicely put. I can acknowledge this argument as a good starting point for reaching a consensus.

    • Ross 3.2

      The protest in Wellington was not ''anti-vaccination'' it was anti-mandate. I'd like clarity about how protesting mandates is supposed to be responsible for ''a rise in threats by extremists against the media and against our politicians”. I'd also like an explanation of why this whole issue was lumped into an argument about bigotry.

      Quite right. I wouldn’t expect that women wanting an abortion would be described as hate mongers and a danger to society, notwithstanding that they wish to terminate the life of their unborn child. But someone making the perfectly rational decision not to be vaccinated is somehow a problem. Or those protesting their right to choose are a danger to society? I hope women in the US who want an abortion will continue to protest their right to choose.

  4. Stuart Munro 4

    Well of course hate is growing in NZ. We have rampant and growing inequality, and have had a per capita immigration rate of roughly five times the levels that triggered Brexit in England.

    We MPI have grown our population rapidly without a ghost of a mandate, without ensuring that infrastructure including housing kept pace, and without any consideration of cultural basics. We have, from the tiny proportion of cases that make it to court, a significant newcomer population that believe wage theft/permanent residency rorts are perfectly fine.

    Throw wokeness into the mix – aggressive Trans persons with penises insisting on and being granted access to womens' spaces, once again without any suggestion of a public mandate, and it is a significant provocation.

    Then stir in the foreign sourced Trumpist movements, the NRA funding to destroy our positive legislative example of of gun control, and self-aggrandizing scoundrels on talkback who know the shortest route to notoriety is negative criticism, and is is a testament to the goodwill and sanity of New Zealanders that things are not much, much, worse.

  5. aj 5

    Too woke? Hell no.

    It's not woke to care for your family, your neighbour's, your workmates, to support women's equality, to support people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds.

    Woke is a word I refuse to accept other than describing what happens after the state of sleep.

    • Anker 5.1

      AJ last night I watched Bomber Bradbury's podcast, The Working Group. Before you scroll past one of the guests was Matt McCarten.

      At the end of the programme each panelest gets to do a 90 seond rave about anything. McCarten did it on how the woke is dividing left wing politics and said it needs to stop. The other three panelists agreed with this.

  6. 39 percent of Auckland's population were born overseas

    Immigrants make up 106 percent of net new housing demand

    It is well known, but not popular to say out loud, that high immigration depresses the wages of locals, especially younger workers.

    Not to mention our shameful track record of sex trafficking, made easier by laissez faire careless regulations and a dysfunctional immigration system,

    Not racism. Resistance to a wave of secondary colonisation at unsustainable levels that has exacerbated all of Auckland's problems and spread them to the rest of the country.

    Sustainable immigration of essential, skilled workers is great. Opening a back door for student visa holders to get a dodgy qualification then "invest" in property and import their extended family – no.

    The Covid shutdown has thankfully put a stop to much of this shit, I pray we never go back to BAU, it was morally reprehensible, of benefit only to the wealthy.

    • kejo 6.1

      Thanks Rob

    • Patricia Bremner 6.2

      So true Rob.
      Kris did his job.yes

    • RedLogix 6.3

      Good find with that Croaking Cassandra link. It aligns with my suggestion a while back that the root cause of rising housing prices in countries like Aus and NZ is that we are essentially victims of our own success – properous, well governed and reliable places to own an asset.

      There being just 30 odd nations on earth that are actually desirable places to live for the moment – and the list isn't getting longer.

      • In Vino 6.3.1

        Or rather countries that have embarked upon a silly, unsustainable, and unproductive Ponzi scheme?

      • roblogic 6.3.2

        I recall John Key saying something similar (a sign of success). But it's wrong. Crazy house price growth is an abdication of government responsibility to ensure shelter for its citizens, instead allowing banks to indulge in irresponsible lending practices — basically printing money — degrading the currency and turning housing into an investment vehicle

        • Patricia Bremner

          Yes and that began with BNZ in 1990. They offered loans against properties, and so folk bought flats as investments. Developers moved in . It snowballed.

  7. Anker 7


    We can relax Professor Joanne Kidman is in charge of the new centre of excellence for extremism.

    Her credentials include attacks on Auckalnd University for calling a cat Governor Grey, Trying to have Trelise Cooper cancelled because she called a Dress Trail of Tiers (not Trail of Tears), attacking the Listener 7 calling them zombies. So all the important (woke) stuff.

    • Grafton Gully 7.1

      A cat's name a dress design and Listener7 and hate speech and wokedom and inequality and left right left right left and human rights and extremism and hate speech and the treaty and sovereignty and the GPs are overloaded and GDP fell but does it count gardening and housekeeping and spending time with oldies and playing with kids and what happened to Marilyn and houses prices are falling and is this good or bad and everything is more expensive and who the fuck is going to fix it all ? In other words who to vote for next year ? TPM, ACT or TOP ?.

    • weka 7.2

      I've not seen any evidence that Kidman tried to have Cooper cancelled. That's Bomber making shit up because he hates solidarity politics. Dig into it and it looks like Kidman called Cooper out, but did not call for her sacking or for to stfu. This matters because if we give up differentiating between calling out and cancel culture, we just reinforce the divides.

      • Anker 7.2.1

        I think there is a quote where Joanna called the Listener 7 walking zombies. But didn't try and cancel them, although I wouldn't be surprized if she signed the petition against them, but I could be wrong.

  8. Muttonbird 8

    Good post, Ad.

    It's clear the rise in political violence is nothing to do with the left. It is the self-declared disenfranchised right which is causing all the trouble.

    As has always been the case.

  9. Muttonbird 9

    I see old, white, best-selling author of crappy books with an estimated worth of 700 million dollars is complaining old white men are the victims of racism.

    He has since apologised and tried to walk back from this brainfart via his PR helpers.


  10. It seems to me that much of the stuff on here is the productg of would be policy wonks trying to exhibit their stuff.

    Anybody who lives in the provinces is continually being fed a diet of nationals party nastiness in the daily rags that purport to be fair and balanced and they are getting away with it. Nobody is holding them to account and some of the blatherers on here would be better off getting their hands dirty and sticking it to these tory rags. Is there asnybody listening?

    • pat 10.1

      What is NZs biggest problem currently?

      • Robert Guyton 10.1.1

        Looming despair.

      • Patricia Bremner 10.1.2

        "What is NZs' biggest problem?

        Climate change. It is affecting everyone, add in the shortages and disruptions of covid and war. We have a stew of anxiety.

        People have lost their certainty, and all problems and changes loom large. Some do not cope and look for what they think is annoying them. So what they see as woke, or preachy causes a reaction. Add to that inflation costs it is a powder keg for some.

        Some are angry, and look to provoke stir and upset. That has its place to begin pulling ideas apart, but the best work is done in collaboration and co-operation.imo

        We have been separated by covid and that has strained all areas of life, and it is not over yet.
        In the background is effects of climate change, wild weather, crop loss, homes and assets destroyed, beaches washing away……. uncertainty.

  11. adam 11

    Well worth the try RedLogix.

    Censorship, cancel culture and totalitarian smugness are all parts of the 'woke' culture.

    To get back on topic, we have, and have had a far right problem in this country for a long time. Which has been quietly ignored.

    Now we have them supporting one far right nut bag or another in the war in Ukraine. Long may the far right nut jobs fight each other.

    But me think those days are numbered. And problems with this growing totalitarianism, is so many on the 'left' support it.

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