A degree in Urban Mythology, courtesy of Massey University



smells like media bullshit


A media report on Massey University’s annual New Zealand quote of the year caught my attention. Amongst the memorable quotes was one by former Labour Leader, David Cunliffe. The media story reported the quote,

* “I’m sorry for being a man” – Former Labour leader David Cunliffe

As most folk should be aware, that is not quite what Cunliffe said. In fact, those six words are a dishonest, simplistic mis-representation of what he actually stated.

On 4 July, as Cunliffe addressed a Women’s Refuge forum in Auckland, he actually said,

“Can I begin by saying I’m sorry.

I don’t often say it. I’m sorry for being a man right now, because family and sexual violence is perpetrated overwhelmingly by men against women and children.

“So the first message to the men out there is: wake up, stand up and man up and stop this bullshit!”

The degree of mis-representation by the MSM is best illustrated by the Otago Daily Times story at the time. Whilst Cunliffe’s statement was reported in full, the headline was still inaccurate,


As we know, the MSM made a ‘feast’ of this story – but for all the wrong reasons. Cunliffe’s statement was shortened to six words and the actual social problem of vicious beatings, maimings, and deaths of predominantly children and women at the hands of their menfolk – was submerged.

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Meme-creator, Francis Owen, summed up the lunacy of the situation in his now-famous image (see below), where he condemns the media for their behaviour,

“David Cunliffe stood up on the issue of social violence. The media portray it as a gaff… ffs”

In case anyone is in doubt,  the facts are straight forward enough;

• In 2013, there were 95,080 family violence investigations by NZ Police. There were 59,137 family violence investigations where at least one child aged 0-16 years was linked to these investigations.

• In 2013, 3,803 applications were made for protection orders: – 2705 (91%) were made by women and 207 (7%) by men – 2638 (90%) of respondents were men and 252 (9%) women.2

• In 2013, there were 6749 recorded male assaults female offences and 5025 recorded offences for breaching a protection order.

• In 2012/13, Women’s Refuges affiliated to the National Collective of Independent Women’s Refuges received 81,720 crisis calls. 7,642 women accessed advocacy services in the community. 2,940 women and children stayed in safe houses.

• In 2013, NZ Police recorded 11 homicides by an intimate partner. 7 of the victims were women and 4 were men.

• In 2013, NZ Police recorded 10 homicides of children and young people under 20 by a family member.

• In 2012, 52 children under 16 years of age were hospitalised for an assault perpetrated by a family member.

Source: NZ Family Violence Clearinghouse Data Summaries Snapshot, June 2014 (PDF, 183 KB)

Despite the mayhem in so many homes, the MSM thought it more “news worthy” to treat Cunliffe’s comments with mirth and derision. The bashings and deaths of women and children was relegated, or not mentioned at all.

To be honest, I am no longer surprised at the MSM. The corporatisation and corruption of news means we are less informed than ever. Superficiality, trivia, mis-reporting – rubbish packaged as sensational headlines – but rubbish nevertheless.

But surely, an institution as prestigious as Massey would not have continued the media-driven charade of mis-quoting Cunliffe?

I checked.

The following screenshot reveals how Massey portrayed Cunliffe’s comments;


Massey University - I'm sorry for being a man - Cunliffe - Quote of the Year


Not exactly very honest, I thought. And more so when the Voting Form invites readers to “vote as many times as you like“.

Is this how Massey University views academic integrity? Mis-representation of a public figure’s speech and encouraging multiple voting?!

Evidently Dr Heather Kavan, who has sponsored the “Quote of the Year”, does not view domestic violence as a serious problem. According to her, it’s little more than a “gaffe“;

“There has been a trend this year towards large numbers of insults and gaffes. If there was any soaring rhetoric during the election, no one seems to have remembered it.”

Perhaps Dr Kavan has been lucky. She obviously has never had a fist in her face; been sexually assaulted by a partner; or had to escape to a Refuge in fear of her life.

I wrote to  Dr  Kavan;

If you’re going to quote David Cunliffe, shouldn’t you be using the quote in it’s entirety, instead of selectively taking six words out of context?

Cunliffe’s full statement was;

“I don’t often say it. I’m sorry for being a man right now, because family and sexual violence is perpetrated overwhelmingly by men against women and children.”

Not only does the whole statement give new meaning to Cunliffe’s speech, but it raises the question as to why a critical social problem has been so trivilised by the media – and now by your University.

Because it strikes me as outrageous that whilst we expect the MSM (mainstream media) to mis-quote and sensationalise simply to sell advertising – one expects a University to be better acquainted with the notion of truthfulness.

If Universities are going to follow the MSM in promoting mis-quotes simply because they achieve social currency, and enter the realm of urban myth, then what else will Universities sacrifice for convenience?

If you’re going to quote, please do it accurately. Or not at all.


There is only one reason why domestic violence is still a blight on our society. Only one reason why men, women, and children continue to be affected by this violence; because those with voices and influence in our society treat it as a joke.

David Cunliffe took the the problem head-on.

He was ridiculed for his efforts.

And now a University perpetuates the trivialisation of the beating and killing of women and children.

There are times when I’m ashamed to be a New Zealander.




NZN News: Cunliffe’s man apology up for best quote

Otago Daily Times: ‘I’m sorry for being a man’ – Cunliffe

NZ Family Violence Clearinghouse: Data Summaries Snapshot, June 2014

Massey University:  Vote for 2014 Quote of the Year

Massey University:  Vote for 2014 Quote of the Year (Voting List)

Previous related blogposts

When the mainstream media go feral: the descent into sheer farce, according to Tova O’Brien

The Mendacities of Mr Key #6: When apologising to a victim of violence is not considered “serious”



david cunliffe stood up on the issue of domestic violence

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes



= fs =


  1. If its treated this way the problem gets ignored by the ones with the power to change it. This time it is about the money.

  2. Vile press we have today is full of lies and deceit against the society we live amongst.

    Media has sunk down the pit of filth with their continued biased reporting of things they happen to be in disagreement with.

    Who set the media up as judge jury & executioner?

    The global elite and Rupert Murdoch the head of the media moguls to be precise!

    In Australia the total media is virtually controlled by that one man who is now eyeing up the last free public media outlet ABC for another acquisition to complete his total dominance of all the Australian media.

    Next he will spread his poison to NZ if he hasn’t already done so.

    If we are to ever have a free public service media who can report honestly in what context statements were made such as your examples above Frank you must help encourage the following;

    We will need the opposition political parties to unite to force Government to open half the TVNZ/RNZ operations up an independent administration of public broadcasting only for the opposition parties as independent voices of their rights to have their own media voice.

    Can you push thus issue for us all frank?

  3. You say that Dr Kavan said that Cunliffe’s apology was little more than a gaffe. However, nothing in the quoted text or (unless I missed something) in the linked article said that that specific statement was a gaffe at all.

    She said that there was a trend towards gaffes and insults, not that all statements on the list fell into either category.

    Other statements on the list include: “”It terrifies me how much of our economy is stuck inside a dairy cow” and “No more beersies for you.” Were those little more than gaffes?

    The irony here, of course, is that this misrepresentation takes place within a longwinded lecture about the importance of context.

    The decent thing to do here would be to correct your article.

    • Liam – you are being disingenuous. The msm (mis)reported Cunliffe’s statement as a “gaffe”. Dr Kavan referred to “gaffes”.

      This is where you join the dots. If you’re going to be one of those pedants who wait for crystal-clear explanations to be made, you’ll be waiting a very long time.

      I have no wish to indulge your game-playing on this critical matter. To many people are being harmed and killed to play word-games like you are.

      • Just to point out the obvious – how can it be included in the Quotes of the Year when it is a MISquote? Whether or not it’s concidered ‘unusual’ or not it’s only entry could be as David Cunliffe’s full statement or as a quote from the original (news?)person who misquoted it.

        • Well said, Cagey. Your last reference to “as a quote from the original (news?)person who misquoted it” would at least make more sense as a more honest representation of the mis-quote…

  4. “I wrote to Dr Kavan”

    Thanks, Frank. It needed an ‘at the time, not later’ response.

    There’s not much we can do about the blokes and their ‘bloody stupid! Saying you’re ashamed to be a man!’ snipes. That’s a long term project.

    But for now, for this practical step – thanks, Frank.

  5. Whether we like it or not, and despite the fact that it’s inaccurate, “I’m sorry for being a man” became the famous quote. Blame journalists acting in the service of their NAct master.

    • WE all know by now that the MSM distorts the truth and will misrepresent it if possible, so the press secretaries of left wing parties must check through every press statement, speech etc to see what remarks will give the MSM a free kick.
      What they did with his speech was obscene but totally predictable. It should never have been made public in that form. I have a suspicion that David Cunliffe wanted something provocative to make sure it was picked up at all by the MSM, something that would cause a reaction. It sure did.

  6. Frank you missed the entire point of the derision directed at Cunliffe over this speech, and I strongly suspect that is because other contributors to this blog were blinded to Cunliffe’s shortcomings. The guy never sounded sincere. He said very different things to different audiences, even using faux accents and ‘bro’ speech (eg at the infamous Avondale market speech which was posted on YouTube). The reality is Cunliffe was a Lightweight, and his ‘apology’ just showed what a bullet the country dodged. Thankfully, Andrew Little, boring as he may be, looks far less accident prone.

    • And you, Nehemia, have gone off on a tanjent.

      Whether or or Cunliffe had “shortcomings”, “accident prone”, or was “lightweight” is not germane to the simple truth that he was badly (and willfully) misquoted by the msm. Pointing elsewhere to distract attention doesn’t change that.

      Can you address the points raised here?

      • I did. You can blame the media all you like, but Cunliffe walked into this by his lack of sincerity. His apology was manufactured for the audience. Politicians are misquoted all the time, as are ordinary citizens. But someone of Cunliffe’s experience should have known better. But on this point we will agree…our media are shabby, shallow and self obsessed.

        • Yes, you have deflected by putting this on to Cunliffe and his supposed “failings”.

          He was badly misquoted and that contributed to a public perception of being gaffe-prone. That is a gross dishonesty on the part of the media who perpetuated the lie.

          Yours is a justification of dishonesty by pointing to the victim and suggesting that his/her (supposed) short-comings warranted the smears. With that kind of attempted argument, Nehemia, you can justify any wrong-doing by simply saying, “Oh well, she/he deserved it because of [insert sin here].”

          It’s the rape-mini-skirt argument applied to politics. And best of all, it absolves you from thinking through the issues and instead responding with lazy cliches and victim-blaming.

          No wonder the media – which you describe as “shabby, shallow and self obsessed” got away with it. Because people like you find cause to enable the lie.

          • As one who was at the conference and heard the words in context, they were enirely appropriate. Cunlife made use of hyperbole to make a strong point. It was genuine and well received in the spirit it was made. It is a pity that academics who are paid for by taxpayers see this kind of fruitless ‘research’ as appropriate.

          • You’re missing the point. Firstly Cunliffe wasn’t ‘badly’ misquoted. He apologised for being a man. Right now, next week or yesterday then became irrelevant. Secondly we all know the MSM do this. You article would have had more impact had you given more examples from both sides of the fence, rather than just focus on a long winded dissertation of this one example.

    • Bullshit. Change a couple of names in this quote from Hunter S Thompson and you have the truth.

      “The tragedy of all this is that George McGovern for all his mistakes … is one of the few men who’ve run for president … this century who really understands what a fantastic monument to all the best instincts of the human race this country might have been, if we could have kept it out of the hands of greedy little hustlers like Richard Nixon. McGovern made some stupid mistakes, but in context they seem almost frivolous compared to the things Richard Nixon does every day of his life, on purpose, as a matter of policy and a perfect expression of everything he stands for.”
      Hunter S Thompson (The Great Shark Hunt London: Macmillan, 1979. P.300)

    • In your opinion. Personally I never doubted his sincerity, I found him totally believable and genuine, unlike Key

  7. Who chose these? The only ones I’d heard were Pam Corkery’s, Whaleoil’s and “No more beersies” and the misquote. Another academic puff of ether – meaning nothing.

  8. Good on you taking this up. Cunliffe doesn’t deserve the treatment he received (and still receiving) and being constantly misquoted. Apologizing for family violence and being derided about it is wrong. Especially in the context of JC/JK/CS saga – unbelievable. Could do with a quote from John Key and Judith Collins there were many – but yep missing in action like the truth in MSM.

  9. As I said at the time the comment was made, the Nationalphile MSM have consistently misrepresented and taken out of context what David actually said. But as we see so often, they won’t allow the truth to get in the way of a beat-up. Sleezebags! That is our MSM.

  10. I fail to see how this pathetic comment was taken out of context.
    Mr Cunliffe took a complex and serious social problem and essentially blamed it on ‘men’, saying he was ‘sorry to be a man’.

    It was stupid, it was shitty – and it stuck to him, as it should have.

    • Editing out portions of what a person said removes the context from what they said. Either you didn’t bother to read it properly or you don’t want to because the truth hurts. Much easier to listen to the Nationalphile MSM than to engage the brain.

  11. I suppose it could of been worse, our dastardly MSM could have run with the headline ‘Cunliffe Feels Trapped in Male Body’ instead of ‘I’m Sorry to be a Man…Cunliffe’.

  12. Vote as many times as you like? That will make this university poll even more unreliable than the Herald’s digi polls which at least don’t let you vote twice (although I’m sure you could get round it if you really wanted).

    Jeez, academia and MSM fighting it out for the shallow end of the pool.

  13. I couldn’t see how John Key earned the right to wear a white ribbon during White Ribbon Week when he made purposely made political capital out of the quote

  14. I’m never ashamed to be a New Zealander. I am ashamed to tghink the likes of John Key, Judith Collins, Cam Slater et al are New Zealanders. I am ashamed to think that the MSM in New Zealand has, as everywhere else on the planet – been bought and sold to fat cat interests at the expense of their readership (and Newspapers wonder why their circulations are falling year by year). I am ashamed to think a country that at least aspired to the image it likes to present to the world has abandoned any such aspiration. I am ashamed to think that for the sake of lining their own pockets, the fat cats are selling this country off to offshore interests; I am ashamed to think this country’s soi-disant ‘leadership’ is so utterly stupid as even to imagine the fire sale of New Zealand’s wealth offshore even remotely benefits this country’s economy; I am ashamed to think that the bulk of New Zealand’s population has not one advocate in a position to give a check to the rampant stupidity of its Government; I am ashamed to see from this same ‘leadership’ the kind of cargo cult mentality that will further undermine any credible claim to world eminence for anything at all.

    I am ashamed to think that Doug Myers (I think it was his, twenty-something years back) dire prediction – that New Zealand stood in grave danger of becoming a ‘funny little country in the southwest corner of the Pacific’ – has long since come to pass. New Zealand has established itself firmly as a funny little country in the southwest corner of the Pacific.

  15. Oh, and I am ashamed to think that in this country, with all it has and had to offer, still has people more deserving than those on the receiving end of the ‘discipline’ they hand out to other family members. And don’t you ever believe men have cornered the market on this kind of violence, abuse and neglect. Not for one moment.

    And people wonder about ‘elderly neglect’. Spare me.

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