RNZ review of Helen Clark interview



Had a wee laugh listening to Helen Clark on RNZ National a few mornings ago. Her – and Judith Collins by the way – have blocked me on twitter. Those precious souls that can’t take a verbal hatcheting at 140 characters at a time don’t know what trolling is. They politicians and diplomats shelter behind a PR cordon sanitaire of a social media naughty list to preserve the echo chamber they claim reflects popular opinion. They say they are engaged. Engaged with whom? The chosen audience. Helen the Shrek-whisperer and her flock.

Anyway, blocker Clark was talking to Kathryn Ryan. Ryan was an ice bong of cool, treating old blocksie McBlocklady as coldly and politely as she would any politician on an ego-fueled power trip described typically as a candidacy. So neutral, so even. It could have been Phil Goff and the Auckland mayoralty, or a dog breeder entering Crufts, a dude wanting to be president of the darts club – Ryan gives no clue as to status when dealing with such vanity projects. Ryan was noticeably unaffected by the rarified air of what Helen has previously refered to as “the stratosphere” of the United Nations. Helen is way above the parochial micro-climate of New Zealand – she’s quick to cringe now she’s in New York. All the stratosphere seems to be causing a lot of condescension.

Helen’s candidacy was so long in being telegraphed – decades really – that it was barely news in New Zealand when she announced it. It wasn’t really news – it was an inevitability.

Helen turned on her heel the night of election defeat 2008 – giving the leadership hospital pass to Phil – and since that moment she was off to the UN and we all knew it. The UNDP gig fell into her lap. Who knows what GCSB/5 Eyes shenanigans went on in the background to secure this role as a convenient Western stooge, but it sent her orbital and her detached Non Regrette Rien valedictory to parliament signalled that the Elvis of the Labour Party had not just left the building she had left the planet.

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The UN Secretary Generalship bid was welcomed with a flat acceptance. Of the 7pm current affairs shows only one bothered to note it – in about two minutes of sound bites. Any other nation – especially of New Zealand’s size – fielding a candidate for president of the world would get a bit more airtime than a couple of minutes on one network. The nation bored into indifference already. So too with the state’s Pakeha (European) radio network, RNZ: nothing beyond the expected formality of an interview. A courtesy call. And a courtesy response. The disdain was mutual.

Helen had returned to Helengrad the week previous. Pictures on social media had her looking 1945 shades of Frankenfürher as she stalked the parliamentary lobby. All she needed was greatcoat, an Alsatian and a bottle of cyanide pills to complete the scene. A grey, spooky, hood-eyed figure. A zombie. A political zombie and a political Frankenstein’s monster, parts feminist ideologue/neoliberal proclivities/confiscationist Pakeha/powermonger/academic/bureaucrat. For the remnant rump of Kiwi luvvies and labourites that she had not burnt off through her domestic career of cynical political manoeuvrings she still holds appeal. No doubt Aunty Helen’s seamless acclimatisation to stratospheric conditions have made her part of the furniture as far as the flea circus on the East River goes. She’s well respected say the jargonistas.

Some might see competence and experience in her bearing and background while others might be struck by the smugness trekking to the heights of sanctimony when it comes to anything she says on race relations. In interviews she is not shy to drape a korowai (Maori cloak) of platitudes and half truths around her shoulders in order to attempt to claim she has successfully managed diversity by virtue of managing the New Zealand entity. These claims flow so freely from the font of Pakeha mythology – self-serving disingenuous fiction. A whitewash. Just like the random Pasifika welcomes that pepper her introductory patter – brazen cultural appropriations by the master in the colonial relationship – another theft, another unauthorised use to disguise the real nature of the subject.

Helen’s colonial mentality of a straight-forward and uncontested notion of European supremacy is a typically white New Zealand combination of studied ignorance and hypocrisy. The plucky little nation, the Pacific nation.

She was the leader of a government who refused to sign the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People it must be remembered. Her government was only one of four who refused to sign. She was the Prime Minister who shut down a court case and confiscated the entire foreshore and seabed off the native owners while ensuring the private freeholders – ie. Pakeha – kept their rights. This was deeply conservative, and deeply racist – the UN special rapporteur who investigated said as much. She was the leader when her government’s knee-jerk anti-terrorism laws were used by police to invade a Maori village and put tribal leaders and others on a show trial in Auckland when the government was in Treaty of Waitangi negotiations with that tribe. She presided over a police force that started to prosecute dissidents for sedition. She was the leader of the government which signed a Free Trade Agreement with China that included a one-sided immigration clause. She filled the country with half a million foreigners in her nine years at the top, making New Zealand a more colonial demographic than it had been in half a century or more and causing an unsustainable property bubble in the process. That’s all part of the Helen Clark story too.

In an organisation that could install Kurt Waldheim – a German officer of the notorious Army Group E responsible for massacres in the Balkans – as Secretary General for ten years then a slightly racist white feminist shouldn’t have many problems.


  1. A corrupt liar who presided over the looting and polluting of NZ by global corporations and international bankers, and then took up a position which encompassed special responsibility for looting Africa.

    What other qualifications are needed for the top job at the UN?

  2. That’s a really nasty and offensive hatefest there I had to ggogle who Tim Selwyn is. Among other eyebrow raising things, he’s an ex Act party member who has supported National’s BFF, the Maori party. Says it all really.

    • Do some research WORDS and see the facts and then you will not speak like your head is in quick sand.
      Helen Clark needs to be exposed for the hypocrisy and ugliness that she swims in and the horrific hidden agendas of the UN. Check out the links I just posted above.

      • Yes Blake, Clark’s three terms cemented neoliberalism and Labour will struggle until they distance themselves from her failures.

        This is why Corbyn is succeeding: he knows Blair’s ‘third way’ was a failure and he’s offering an alternative.

        In contrast, NZ’s Labour appear unable to admit that Clark’s ‘third way’ was a failure. They’re unwilling to offer an alternative.

        Andrew Little has an opportunity to shift Labour and therefore shift NZ’s ‘political centre’.

        The ERA 2000 is a joke – Key didn’t create a new employment act for a reason.

        Housing prices and affordability spiralled out of control under Clark. See graph here:

        Prisoner numbers climbed under Clark. See muster numbers here:

        I have no idea why Labour and their supporters continue to look at Clark’s era through rose tinted glasses. Until they change, Labour will struggle to get into power. And if they do get into power, not much will change.

        Sure, Clark was better than Key and Little will be better than Key, but it’s not enough for many of us. Labour needs a major shift – like Corbyn is offering UK’s Labour and Sanders is offering USA’s Democrats.

        • Well said and I agree with you. Labour needs to make some strong decisions now if they want to get back in with the Greens and bring about some Bernie Sanders type reforms and changes.

  3. Helen Clark and the U.N. are not our friends. We sure do breed them here, don’t we and we thought all the monsters were in America ? ? ?

    I used to be a fan or hers many years ago but over the past 10 years I have learned some very ugly truths about her and the U.N.

    I hope that others do their research and find out what a hypocrite she really is and the hidden agendas of the U.N. that are not in the best interests and well – being of all living things – people and the environment.



    • After her role in the Foreshore & Seabed legislation, the raids on the Tuhoe people, I find it insulting that she should quote a Maori proverb at her selection conference. She is one woman whose actions do not give a toss for the indigenous people of Aotearoa.

  4. Probably the strongest like between candidate Clark and NZ is the civil system itself, which has some difficultly in coming to terms with with constitutional values that did not originate in Europe.

    The Cabinet Manual contains circular reasoning, a casual treatment of democracy, and some assertions that are just plain wrong when it describes this country’s constitution.


  5. Not really a fan of Helens, but you could have left out the first 7 paragraphs to make your point. I imagine most people would have been turned off by the silly name calling.

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