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Stuff’s Fire and Fury major investigation into the occupation of Parliament grounds

Written By: - Date published: 10:34 am, August 14th, 2022 - 71 comments
Categories: activism, Parliament - Tags: ,

Stuff’s major investigation into the protests at parliament in February was published today. You can read their backgrounder on why they made it here.

The investigation is divided into five parts,

  1. A feature length documentary
  2. Democracy on the Edge: How the mainstreaming of extreme politics has democracy on edge
  3. How to Defeat Misinformation
  4. Susan joins Voices for Freedom
  5. Push Back Against the Monsters

Mod note: usual rules apply. Argue the politics, don’t attack commenters or use tone or language that has the effect of excluding others. There will be a higher than usual expectation of backing up claims of fact, so please to this pre-emptively. Read the Policy and ask if unclear.

Protest as of 18/02/22. Image Henry Cooke and Kate Newton, Stuff

71 comments on “Stuff’s Fire and Fury major investigation into the occupation of Parliament grounds ”

  1. weka 1

    watching the doco, two mins in,

    Messages from people who may appear to have no common interests, but who are strategically intertwined, united in their uprising against authority.

    Very good to get the foundation stated right at the start.

  2. fender 2

    These enemies of NZ need to be held accountable.

    They need to look at the imminent bankruptcy of Alex Jones and Infowars to see where they are heading. I would encourage Christchurch mosque attack survivors to use legal means to punish their misinformation, I'd gladly contribute financially.

  3. Anne 3

    Here is my reaction:

    Sad to see so many people have been sucked in to evil propaganda sourced in large part from groups of far-right American extremists.

    Angry these off-shore 'agents' of fascist dogma are interfering in the democratic processes within NZ.

    Disgusted with the NZers who are aiding and abetting the evil and encouraging others to take violent actions against the State.

    Appalled at the general level of hatred and stupidity as expressed by the followers interviewed in this doco.

    Afraid there is going to be another horrific tragedy occur somewhere in NZ .

    • Barfly 3.1

      "Sad to see so many people have been sucked in to evil propaganda sourced in large part from groups of far-right American extremists.

      Angry these off-shore 'agents' of fascist dogma are interfering in the democratic processes within NZ." (my underlined bold)

      I am sure SIS and GCIS have the ability to degrade their capabilities but that will never happen will it?

      Should we appeal to Anonymous to take on these American fascists? crying

    • AB 3.2

      Two supplementary points:

      Not surprised that the establishment right (Nat/ACT) while distancing themselves from these groups do so only by a cigarette paper or three and much of their messaging on Covid, Three Waters, etc. is ideologically adjacent to them.

      Have spent too many years hearing that these groups are attracted to far right ideas because both the establishment right and the liberal left have failed to meet their material needs and grievances, i.e. that since the 1980's we have been politically stuck in a TiNA world. Even if this is only partially true, it continues to frustrate that the way out of BAU might look less like social democracy and more like fascism.

  4. Robert Guyton 4

    Finished watching. Waiting now to hear from Rosemary, maui et al.

    It may be an issue that can only be met at the individual, person-to-person, family/whanau, peer group, social group level. Other structures of management are automatically rejected by those who have adopted the positions described in the film.

    • Kat 4.1

      First it was Born to be Wild, then God Damn the Pusher Man….

      Now it's God Damn the Internet….

  5. Patricia Bremner 5

    My first reaction was, "good it is out there and from a reliable source", then I had a feeling of, "stirring the pot again to what effect?"

    Those affected folk will see it as paid government propaganda.

    We are in a no win situation, as reason went out the door and emotion has taken over.

    Evil takes hold when good people do nothing. So we have to counter this.

    • Sacha 5.1

      We do not have to tolerate fascism.

    • Brigid 5.2

      "stirring the pot again to what effect?". Must say I thought the same. There was nothing revealed in the documentary that we didn't all know. Negative media reporting is better than none for the conspirator.

      • weka 5.2.1

        Plenty there for the general public to get there head around though, and to have it pulled all into one place (a fair chunk of it anyway). Even just naming the names is important.

      • DB Brown 5.2.2

        "that we didn't all know"

        We don't all already have all the facts.

        I agree with Visubversa it would have been more valuable if it followed the money.

        The documentary alongside the associated articles and info at least get to the bottom (top) of the local 'freedom' food chain.

        I thought inciting violence was a crime? I don't understand how some of them can publicly carry on the way they do.

        • weka

          haven't looked at the legislation but I suspect the inciting has to be more specific.

          Useful to have Kitteredge speak, although I couldn't tell with the second bit whether she was being very careful with her words, or the connections between the protest and extremists is more tenuous than Stuff were suggesting.

          • Anne

            Careful with her words I think.

            I agree with you. Its good to have it all gathered together in one place.

    • Robert Guyton 5.3

      The purpose of the film is, I believe, to show several things: one, that analysis and investigation is continuing and the events haven't been forgotten, two, that the individuals most influential in spreading the mistruths are known and they look like this, and thirdly, that those most closely following the developments believe there is worse to come and feel it their duty to keep us alert to the possibility/probability of more trouble.

      I think those 3 aspects alone make the airing of the film, worthwhile.

      • Kat 5.3.1

        I doubt Rosemary will admit to having been conned or deluded, Maurice below at 7 has a finger on the pulse…..

        • weka

          maybe she wasn't conned or deluded and came about her views honestly.

          Can't see how this kind of comments helps tbh. If you think a 'we're right, you're wrong' position is going to work out well, just look at the US. We either find common ground with the majority of people concerned about the mandates, or we let the radicalisation continue. Biggest eyeopener for me in the past two years is understanding just how much of NZ is libertarian (especially on the left/liberal side).

          • Kat

            Many German people in the 1930's had views they came about "honestly" in support of the Third Reich, the outcome of that "honestly gained view" has proven not just to be wrong but a catastrophe for a particular race of people including millions around the world.

            When I go to my garden shed and need a spade I select a spade.

        • Robert Guyton

          An ex-friend of mine, during a discussion about the mandates etc. said to me, "No one likes to be made to feel stupid".

          This factor is a great impediment to dialogue. If you say to someone who has described their great fear of and belief in the trafficking of stolen children in New Zealand, "Are you serious??", they'll block further discussion with the sentiment I described.

      • weka 5.3.2

        very good summation.

      • Anne 5.3.3

        I think those 3 aspects alone make the airing of the film, worthwhile.


        It's all very well saying these people believe what they are saying is real. It is not real. They have allowed themselves to become fodder for a desperately evil group of people. Sad though that may be, it has to be countered or there will be serious consequences.

        I had the misfortune years ago to be associated with people who I can now appreciate were a group of fore-runners to what is happening today. This is nothing new. The difference is: today they have the technological ability to spread their ideology of hatred and violence to a world-wide audience.

        • Maurice

          The horror is that they believe EXACTLY the same … in reverse.

          It is questionable if it can be reversed without precipitating REAL violence.

          Many do not even realise how laughably PEACEFUL both J6 and the NZ protest was simply because the choice was made by the 'silent majority' that it was not the ditch to die in as yet. Many don’t understand that if it gets ugly, it gets ugly for everyone. Even if thought it might get ugly many cannot fathom that a large proportion of both the right and left in NZ simply don’t want that.

  6. Visubversa 6

    Unfortunately – there was no "follow the money". This bunch are well funded – where from?

  7. Maurice 7

    We must be careful to remember that those we denigrate/despise/dislike return that favour … and that the Far right have been taught to punch back TWICE as hard.

    Give these people no "democratic" alternative and they are forced, by us, in to far more destructive actions.

    Their grievances are as real to them as those of any other group. The danger is that they see past actions against them as the cancelling of the Social Contract and now believe that they have no obligations to a Society which has mandated and excluded them.

    • observer 7.1

      They have a democratic alternative, and it's much easier under MMP than most other systems.

      Every 3 years they try to get 5% of the vote, and they fail, by a long way. Then they claim that the people support them. They don't like democracy at all, because it tells them the truth about that.

      • Maurice 7.1.1

        Ah – but they see the present political system as not only failing them but being used to "clobber" them and install things utterly the antithesis to their values/outlooks and designed to impoverish them.

        We must start to realise exactly how dangerous this is becoming.

        • observer

          Your argument was:

          Give these people no "democratic" alternative and they are forced, by us, in to far more destructive actions.

          That suggests it is a reality, not their perception. It obviously isn't a reality.

          We aren't forcing people to have delusions.

          • Maurice

            It is irrelevant that it is seen as a "perception" or a "reality" ….

            They perceive it to be reality and thus to them it obviously is.

            They see us as not only as having delusions but also a great danger to their continued existence.

            We are dealing with people who were prepared to spend time and money to go all the way to the edge of insurrection – are we not?

      • weka 7.1.2

        that's a low form of democracy. We only have to look at local bodies to see how much power is vested every three years without a huge amount of accountability to community. What we could be doing instead of dividing down authoritarian/libertarian lines, is looking at participatory democracy. Useful for so many reasons, but also, looking at those two older women when a mirror was held up to their politics and behaviours, if that was happening in community and there were models of democracy they could relate to, I think they're be more inclined to be part of society than against it.

    • DB Brown 7.2

      "and they are forced, by us"

      (completely disrespectful rules of the post breaking string of invective)

      So the people who I've given work to, fed, accommodated, transported, loaned to… were really ignored and mandated and excluded and their grievances are all real not made up like the lady concerned with us ghouls drinking the blood of babies.

      • weka 7.2.1

        um, yes, some of the grievances are real.

        what should society do with people who disagree with how society is run?

        • DB Brown

          "Some grievances are real" Of course. That's how to get played by the main players in this game. Bring your grievances, all of them, perceived or real. But when you mishmash fair grievance with, for instance, Q – it's not a place for sensible or productive discourse.

          You go to the right avenues, and if that fails, the courts, or the MP's, or the media. And if that fails, you don't threaten to kill the MP's and the media ffs.

          Those who disagree with how society is run are valuable critics. There's a line from fair grievance or fair comment – to Q adjacent white supremacist instigated rioting and civil disobedience… it's rather wide.

          Those with fair grievance who don't get to properly air their grievance is probably all of us. Our level of tolerance for perceived slight might be orders of magnitude different, but we've mostly all been mucked about by unthinking (or unknowing) civil servants or simply civilians at some stage.

          • weka

            it's bigger than slights though. What's going to happen when climate activism kicks off again? Are we going to tell them to all work within the boundaries of society? Remember the Tour, what was needed to force change?

            The thing about the Wgtn protest is that it was a group of people holding a wide range of views and values. The numbers of white supremacists/alt right was probably small, but had a big reach. There were Māori there ready to fight the state. Hippy libertarians who know there's something wrong with the mainstream (and they're not wrong). Young and not so young men spoiling for the fight that the police eventually gave them on the last day. A bunch of arsheholes who wanted to strorm the citadel and who apparently believe that executing MPs is fair and reasonable. People fucked off and fed up because they lost their jobs.

            In all that, there are legit grievances, and seriously illegit ones. We can't just write them off as 'Q adjacent white supremacist instigated rioting and civil disobedience'. We have to tease out what's fair and what isn't. Most of those people weren't threatening MPs. And the whole 'right avenues' thing is a for people in positions of privilege. We are being failed by our democracy all over the place, and the last two years just brought the problem into the foreground.

            (What I still haven't seen is the peace and love crowd front up and explain why they didn't deal with that at the time)

            • DB Brown

              Aren't you just mish-mashing it even further adding climate change – there was a climate hoaxer there I personally know. And The Tour – What? Why?

              Don't legitimise these mongrels (the spreaders of lies and inciters of violence) because they co-opted people with legitimate complaints.

              • weka

                Aren't you just mish-mashing it even further adding climate change – there was a climate hoaxer there I personally know. And The Tour – What? Why?

                I'm saying that right avenues don't always work and that protest that crosses boundaries is sometimes warranted.

                Don't legitimise these mongrels (the spreaders of lies and inciters of violence) because they co-opted people with legitimate complaints.

                I'm not. How did you get that from my comments? It's possible to push back against the fascists and arseholes without throwing all the protestors under the bus.

            • As we say in Germany, if there’s a Nazi at the table and 10 other people sitting there talking to him, you got a table with 11 Nazis.

              Dr. Jens Foell

              • PsyclingLeft.Always

                Absolutely. And re Climate protests…being proffered as some kind of equivalence…or future mix scenario. Complete BS ! I have been on a few. Many diverse People. Including lots of older NZers..and School kids.

                NO white supremacists…or nazis…or trump supporters. Ever.

                • weka

                  And re Climate protests…being proffered as some kind of equivalence…or future mix scenario.

                  No-one made that equivalence. I didn't make that equivalence. What I said, twice, was that protests can't always stay within the boundaries of what is acceptable to society.

                  If we use the argument that protest should go through the right avenues, what happens with climate protest? Should XR never have happened?

              • weka

                not sure that was in reference to but the ratios are wrong. There weren't 10 neonazis at the protest for every 1 non-nazi. More like 1 neonazi to every several hundred or more other protestors.

                The Foell doesn't work here unless you are suggesting that the presence of even one nazi makes everyone else a nazi whether they know he is a nazi or not.

                • Shanreagh

                  I don't think one should get picky about about the numbers. The purpose of the quote is to warn to be careful of who your protest mates are and what their causes are.

                  Your cause, while just and above board, will be tainted as you, the wider you, have let or enabled Neo Nazis to be part of it.

                  One neo-Nazi is one too many. One person who turned a blind eye to their presence or who could not be bothered saying 'oh actually we don't want you here' to neo Nazis' is one enabler of neo Nazis.

                  The presence of Counterspin media should have been fair warning to those involved that others had come into the protest and were pushing their own views/agendas. And they did this by making on the ground commentary.

                • barry

                  The "reasonable" people in the protests were all (to some extent) radicalised so you can't tell who was the NAZI, and who was just in the same room. The documentary made the point of interviewing one (very reasonable seeming woman) and then showing footage of her as part of a group threatening and chasing reporters away from the protests.

  8. pat 8

    The problem is the breach of the social contract.

    Governments are losing their ability to manipulate (yes, manipulate) their populations as the benefits of belonging to that society are increasingly enjoyed by a diminishing proportion of that population.

    Largely as a result of abdicating their responsibility in ensuring that inequality dosnt get too extreme….and until that is addressed the problems will continue to grow, until the point of collapse of any functionality.

  9. Ad 9

    Even after watching the videos, I am impressed that there are so few of these people.

    We are one of the least equal societies in the world but our social contract is remarkably strong. Their polling is ludicrously low. Even in this most woeful of local elections there are very few loonies.

    Even Brian Tamaki is feeling the walls of the law pull in close.

    Go well New Zealand you are 99.9% awesome and truthful people who are working together to our common good.

    • pat 9.1

      The lunatic fringe are symptomatic of the wider problem, and it dosnt take a majority to initiate 'change'.

      • Ad 9.1.1

        No rational being could accuse this government of losing its ability to to manipulate people.

        This government has manipulated us (often with worthy policy reasons) particularly since March 2020, with high success and with all instruments at its disposal.

        This government has run successful behaviour-change campaigns in vaccination, transport, shopping, housing investment, gender identity, water management, and more. Usually a combination of massive pr + social media and law with dumploads of social bribes and public funding.

        There doesn't appear to be any level of inequality that has bearing upon whether New Zealanders are manipulated.

        • pat

          The fact that an increasing portion of the population are unwilling to adhere to the social norms is indicative that the manipulation is failing….social tipping points have been shown to occur at rates as low as 3%.

    • Sanctuary 9.2

      The video is certainly a strong defense of the 5% threshold. Imagine if we had an Israeli style MMP. VFF would have 1 MP, Brian Tamaki would have 4 MPs, The "Gun Rights & We don't like Maori Alliance" would have 3 MPs etc etc.

  10. Stuart Munro 10

    It's an interesting phenomenon – but government needs to be wary of the trap of lending credibility to hostiles (among which we may number the authors of much of the disinformation) as well as those that are frankly wrong. To try to engage constructively with persons that are not acting in good faith is self-defeating folly. To insist on a standard of truth is another minimum requirement of engagement.

    We had old laws about incitement and sedition. The authors of the occupy movement should be facing the penalties those laws specified – commensurate with the damage they intended.

    The issue of the decline of democracies is separate. These mobs are scarcely even demagoguery – they cannot muster anything resembling popular support. The quiet desperation that results from NZ governments consistently betraying our populace must be addressed, but it should not be imagined that the instigators of the occupation are competent to delineate the issues, much less play any constructive role in solutions. They are noise, not signal.

    • Maurice 10.1

      Ah! But there is only one source of all truth and information … //s

      It is just that differing factions have different sources which have different truths and sources of information.

      Even Diogenes the Cynic could not search out an honest man (or is that 'person' now?)

      • Stuart Munro 10.1.1

        Although there is something in what you say, the wannabe occupiers are not philosophers, but charlatans, who mean to create civil disorder in hope of profiting from the ensuing chaos. This is readily discoverable – even Stuff were able to find it out.

        There is no benefit, and considerable cost in pretending their malicious fictions have substance.

        • Robert Guyton

          Stuart – your 2 comments (above) are insightful and perfectly describe the issue, imo.

          • Shanreagh

            I agree with your comment Robert about Stuart's posts.

            Some how many people were enabled to let good sense be overwhelmed so there could be a free for all of various malcontents at parliament grounds. Those of good sense would have left the protest very early on once it became clear that the presence of RW jocks and neo Nazis made unexpected bedfellows.

            I agree that no govt should seek to sup with those who are so hostile. It is a waste of time. As Maurice says above they punch back twice as hard. There comes a time when being open for discussion does not work, the Govt recognised this at the time by not meeting the occupiers.

            I too am keen for an exploration of the 'following the money', and VFF. I am keen for the Fire and Fury doco to be shown on TV and also put forward for selection into Film Festivals.

  11. The difficult aspect that bothers me is that this conspiracy thinking is very common in the Christian churches — seems more common than not, unfortunately. Much of it is imported from America but there is a special kind of resentment against Jacinda and the "podium of truth", and various bits of legislation that we find threatening, almost a Trojan horse, that taken together, looks like an agenda ("cultural Marxism") to marginalise Christianity and traditional families.

    While agreeing that some of the Government's initiatives are misguided or hamfisted, I do not share in the belief that a Satanic agenda is at play. Because I measure governments on ONE single attribute – how they treat the poorest and most vulnerable. (Matthew 25:31-46)

    This is also where I depart from the Evangelical mainstream because they feel that a cultural and spiritual battle is more important than something as simple as feeding the hungry or ministering to the sick. (Luke 4:17-21)

    • roblogic 11.1

      I suspect that wealthy church leaders find it easier to get lathered over "cultural Marxism" and rant about Government tyranny, than to call out Capitalism and admit how much they personally are worshiping Money

  12. Jenny how to get there 12

    The tragedy is that many of those drawn to the Far Fight have real unaddressed grievances.

    It is the cowardly failure of the Left to address these grievances that has driven them into the arms of the Far Right.

    Historically there are two main sections of society that are attracted to fascist views and movements,

    The middleclass small proprietors whose lunch bar, restaurant, small retail business or shop, that lost custom during the pandemic and lockdowns. (In Germany in the '30s, it was the small proprietors ruined by the Great Depression.)

    With no income, unable to meet the mortgage and rental costs on their business premises, squeezed by the banks and landlords, this sector begged the government for rent and mortgage relief.

    It wasn't forthcoming. And this sector squeezed by the banks and landlords, held the Ardern administration responsible.

    The big foreign owned banks that clip the ticket on all rents and mortgages, and could have afforded to take a hit, were left to keep extracting their pound of flesh right through the pandemic, walking away with record breaking profits.

    The first Labour government imposed a rent and mortgage moratorium, preventing this country sliding into chaos and political violence. The Ardern Labour administration could have done the same. But chose not to, and reaped the result.


    The other sector drawn to fascist views and movements is that lumpen proletariat or precariat that hover between homelessness unemployment and prison, that just want to lash out. Fascists give the precariat backing and a target to focus their grief and anger on. The tragedy is that it is always the wrong target, and never those really responsible for their hardship.

  13. Mike the Lefty 13

    There were a few common themes with the parliament grounds rabble.

    1. A lot of them were bogans who were enjoying the chance to shit stir and have a good time smashing up other people's property.

    2. A lot of them believed that covid was a socialist trick and that the vaccine inserted nano probes into your body so that the state could control you.

    3. Some of them, at least, believed that the earth was flat.

    It is difficult to deal rationally with f..wits like that.

    • PsyclingLeft.Always 13.1

      Aye !!

    • coge 13.2

      Where is you evidence to support any of those claims? Ultimately the elected political classes prosecuted an agenda of widespread segregation upon the people of NZ. Perhaps they didn't think it through, and didn't conceive of what the consequence would be. Such segregation is indefensible, it never belonged on our country. Hence endless farcical claims will be made to to justify it.

      • Barfly 13.2.1

        "Such segregation is indefensible"

        Once in a century plague not enough reason? Saving thousands of lives and our economy not enough reason? ok….

        Was talking to a bloke a little while back who has angry about the 'othering' of anti-vaxxers and believed the Government was fostering division in NZ society. The same man was unconcerned about the National Party's previous 'othering' of beneficiaries and using promises of 'crackdowns and sanctions' for electoral advantage

        I suspect that humanity is collectively insane.

        • Robert Guyton

          "The gubbermint's creating divisions", squawk those people who call most New Zealanders, "sheep".

        • Maurice

          Hmmmm – wonder why the old phrase:

          "A plague on both your houses"

          spring to mind?

      • Mike the Lefty 13.2.2

        Evidence: The billboards, the behaviour and the wreckage.

        Any more evidence you need?

        “agenda of segregration??????”
        what a dufus!

    • Andy 13.3

      Do you have any evidence for these claims? I'm particularly interested in the flat-earth one

      I get pulled up by mods here for making unsubstantiated claims. Fair dinkum I suppose, and I'm slowly learning, but there do seem to be some rather wild stereotypes being thrown around here willy-nilly

  14. Incognito 14

    [Comment from from Darien Fenton @ 2022/08/14 at 3:36 pm]

    Yeah I see Bomber's mad rant on this. It's all the Left's (*aka Woke's) fault. This ia chilling stuff, but I have chosen not to repost on my FB Wall least I be accused of "stirring the pot." But thank you Weka for sharing.

  15. DB Brown 15

    We once enjoyed/tolerated or even celebrated the town cryer/idiot, but now large numbers of people live in an alternate reality, or are at least consistently fed a diet of that nonsense, some of which is definitely sinking in to more of the populace.

    How bad are these alternate realities? In US people are hunting feds in their pick-up trucks – there's tik-toks of it. Many other are putting out 'lock and load' videos. The set up is the same – Donald's a victim, the tyranny! Killing in the name of. It's very bad right now.

    Over in Canada yesterday so called sovereign citizens led by self appointed Queen of Canada Romana Didulo went to arrest Police for some covid related stuff. That didn't go well but followers were assured by her saying a triangular craft had materialised when she called for help (being the queen and all) and military were there to sort the traitor cops out. That's all shared and aired on another platform our locals use.

    She'd previously been calling for executions but after a legal snafu she dialed it down.

    They're using the same platforms our locals are using.

    We have private citizens trying to keep track of the madness, and hopefully law enforcement with some kind of a plan?

    Knocking out the platforms is just whack a mole. Maybe we need laws to knock out malicious content creators and bad faith actors from those platforms.

    See for yourself this is not lots of graphic content (you can skip arrest vid perhaps) it’s mostly just bonkers insane.

    • Maurice 15.1

      Ah! But if they were Gagged where would you get them super out takes to post?

      …. just to show us all how bad they are – of course!

      I wonder if much of this is there for the express purpose of winding up those not in that particular alternate universe?

      • DB Brown 15.1.1

        I prefer not to read into it. There's plenty enough idiots looking for signs and clues.

  16. Andy 16

    The "documentary" is a well-polished piece of one-sided propaganda.

    There is no attempt to engage with any of the legitimate concerns of many of the original protests. If you don't accept that people who have been v-injured are legit concerns then you are part of the problem.

    Oh, and I do acknowledge that there are some unsavoury types involved.

    I have no time for crazies calling for mock trials and executions

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