Why I won’t be congratulating Nikki Kaye




Bill  English today (24 April) announced his Cabinet re-shuffle.  As expected, departing non-performers and walking public-relations-disasters,  Nick Smith and Hekia Parata, were replaced by “rising stars” Amy Adams and Nikki Kaye, respectively.

Both Ms Adams and Ms Kaye have conveyed a public perception of calm efficiency, without the PR cluster-f***s that have come to characterise Nick Smith and Hekia Parata’s erratic performances in their respective ministerial  portfolios.

Smith’s accident-prone political career reached it’s nadir in March 2012 when he was forced to resign for mis-using his ministerial influence on behalf of a close friend and National Party apparatchik, Bronwyn Pullar.

Hekia Parata’s controversy-riddled career crashed in June 2012 when her proposal to increase class-room sizes was met with a deafening chorus of outrage from middle-class mums and dads. The backlash from voters was such that Parata was forced to back down in a humiliating policy u-turn.

English’s re-shuffle puts new(-ish) faces into his Cabinet giving the illusion of “rejuvenation”. But more importantly, it removes Parata and Smith from public view and from  media questioning.

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As  housing and education are both going to be hot election issues this year, having Parata and Smith front to answer difficult questions regarding National’s problematic portfolios (health, education, housing, and dirty waterways) would be embarrassing. National’s tax-payer funded spin-doctors would be banging their heads against brick walls in sheer frustration.

Adams and Kaye had very little of the baggage that their predecessors had, in abundance.

Until, that is, on  15 March this year when then-Youth Minister, Nikki Kaye, launched into an ad hominem diatribe against Jacinda Ardern during a debate in Parliament. It was an orchestrated, pre-planned, personalised attack;

I want to talk about the deputy leadership of the Labour Party. We lost Annette King. I want to acknowledge Annette King. She has been a brilliant member of Parliament. She is someone who has huge respect across the House—and we got Jacinda Ardern. Now, I have been based in Auckland Central for 8 years. I struggle to name anything that Jacinda has done. What I can say is that a great example is when Kevin Hague and I developed an adoption law reform bill. We spent a year on that bill; we put it in the ballot. Jacinda Ardern did a one-line bill telling the Law Commission to write the law for her.

On her first day in the job as deputy leader, on one of the biggest issues confronting our generation, Generation X and Generation Y—on the issue of superannuation affordability—where was she? She had made a whole lot of statements previously about the importance of raising the age, and Jacinda Ardern was nowhere to be seen. She had cut and run on the biggest issue facing our generation, and that is another example of what is a whole lot of photo ops—yes, she will be across every billboard, but she absolutely failed our generation on her first day on the job.

Ardern, to her eternal credit, refused to take the bait to dive head-first into a political sewerage and replied in a manner that epitomises statesmanlike behaviour;

It’s certainly not a style of politics I’ve seen her use before. Nikki and I have run against each other in Auckland Central for a number of years and usually pretty much stuck to the issues and avoided making it personal. I’m going to stick to that. I’m going to stick with the way I like to do politics, and it’s making sure that you keep away from making it too personal. But each to their own.

It was also in stark contrast to the 2014 General Election where Kaye and Ardern agreed to conducting an issues-driven campaign and not resort to increasingly dirty, personalised attack-politics.

That agreement served both women well. They became (generally) more respected than their more “excitable” colleagues in Parliament who were not averse to “getting down and dirty in the bear pit of politics”.

Two days after Kaye’s attack, Jacinda Ardern went further and actually tried to defend her rival on Mediawork’s ‘AM Show’;

I just know that Nikki doesn’t believe that…

… I don’t actually think she believes that, because we’ve worked side-by-side, she knows the case work I’ve done, she knows what I’ve done locally, so I’m going to shrug it off.

National’s Deputy PM, Paula Bennet – herself no stranger to a bit of ‘bene-bashing’ to stir up support from the red-neck element in our society – was having none of it, and refused to accept Ardern’s placatory comments;

That is so condescending Jacinda, that is absolutely condescending.

Bennett was making sure that Kaye’s vitriol would stick and no amount of charitable turning-the-cheek from Ardern would be allowed to dilute the venom.

The result of this petty bickering, name-calling, point-scoring chest thumping is ongoing public scorn and derision at behaviour they would not tolerate from their own children.

In her attack on Ardern, Nikki Kaye has shown that she is not above cheap politicking. It is not Ardern’s reputation that suffered when Kaye launched into her contrived bitchfest.

On the same ‘AM Show’ Bennett attempted to re-frame the viciousness of political scrapping by referring to it as “robust” debate;

“ Of course she meant what she stood up and said and she’s got every right to say it. It’s robustness, and when you step into leadership roles, you are going to be called out and times that’s going to be uncomfortable, and at times you are going to disagree. ”

“Robust” is one of those new ‘buzz-words’, like the increasingly loathed ‘resilient’ or weird-sounding ‘stake holders’. It  can be used to disguise bullying behaviour that would not be acceptable in any other workplace.

Imagine for a moment if the behaviour of personal attacks was replicated throughout society, in every workplace and home in the country. Such behaviour in domestic situations would be labelled domestic abuse. Very few would accept it as “robust discussion”.

Unfortunately, the host of the ‘AM Show’ – Duncan Garner – failed to pick up on this abusive aspect of politics. (Modern  media commercial imperatives demand conflict raging – not conflict resolution. Garner might as well handed both women a knife each and told them to get on with it.)

If Nikki Kaye (and all other Members  of Parliament) wants to work in a constructive, professional manner instead of a toxic culture of threats, point-scoring,  and abuse, each Parliamentarian is personally responsible for their own behaviour.

Ardern’s mild response to Nicki Kaye’s verbal abuse, and refusing to pander to Bennett ‘egging’-on, has raised the standard of behaviour for her parliamentary colleagues.

Ms Ardern was correct to refuse to lower herself to their level.

Kaye, Bennett, et al need to raise themselves up.

Nikki Kaye,  don’t let yourself be persuaded by your colleagues to engage in behaviour you would find unacceptable elsewhere.

Be the person you really are. You are better than this.



One of Nikki Kaye’s “criticisms” of Jacinda Ardern was that she “struggle to name anything that Jacinda has done”.

The simple reality that being in Opposition renders an MP with very little legislative power. Even when a Private Member’s Bill is drawn from the Ballot; debated; put through Select Committee process; and passed into law by a majority of MPsit can still be vetoed by a dogma-driven Finance Minister.

However, even in Opposition,  Ms Ardern is not without her personal achievements.

In the 2014 General Election, Ms Ardern was Number 5 on the Labour Party list. Nicki Kaye was Number 19;



One of those parties has more faith in their candidate and her abilities than the other.


In her 15 March diatribe, Nikki Kaye accused Labour of indulging in a certain style of superficial campaigning;

“This is a Labour Party that thinks the only way that it can get into Government is to totally get rid of all of its policies and to make sure that has got some nice fancy new billboards and some photo ops…”

When it comes to photo-ops, there is only one person in the last decade who mastered the art to a preternatural degree;


Prime Minister John Key draped in current flag at NZ Open


Whether it be babies, kittens, or puppies…


john key photo op (1-4)


Though some weren’t quite so keen…


john key photo op (5)


Some turned out to be downright dodgy…


john key photo op (6)


And some turned into an unmitigated disaster…


Act member for Remuera, John Banks and Prime Minister John Key stop in for a cup of tea and a chat at the Urban Cafe. 12 November 2011 New Zealand Listener Picture by David White.


But let’s get back to kitten and puppies – always an easy, safe bet for a photo-op… (especially with a visiting compliant Royal chucked in for good measure)…


john key photo op (7-9)


Talking about visiting Royals – they are proven rich-pickings for Key to exploit for photo-ops…


john key photo op (10)


And there were photo-ops-galore with various sundry Royals…


john key photo op 11-14)


Chuck in an Aussie Prime Minister…



And another Aussie Prime Minister…




Yet another Aussie Prime Minister…



And – wait for it! – an Aussie Prime Minister!!




Ok, that line of Aussies was getting tedious. Let’s try something different.

A former New Zealand Prime Minister…



Or the current Brit Prime Minister.

Slow down, Dear Leader, you’ve got Cameron dead in your sights for that manly grip…


Britain's Prime Minister, David Cameron (L), greets the Prime Minister of New Zealand, John Key, outside 10 Downing Street in central London September 18, 2013. REUTERS/Andrew Winning (BRITAIN - Tags: POLITICS)


See? Nailed that handshake…




Enough of Prime Ministers. Let’s try a current German Chancellor…




Or a (former) US State Secretary…




Maybe another Royal…




And a Queen or two…


[*scrape, scrape, shuffle, bow, bow, grin like a commoner*]

[*scrape, scrape, shuffle, bow, bow, grin like a commoner*]


Key and Queens


Some bloke from China…


New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key (L) shakes hands with China's President Xi Jinping during a welcoming ceremony of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, inside the International Convention Center at Yanqi Lake, in Beijing, November 11, 2014. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon (CHINA - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS)


And some bloke from America…




Here is our esteemed Dear Leader with perhaps The Most Important Bloke in America…




And we know what followed next…


key - letterman


Though perhaps not quite as embarrassing as this…





But just to keep the “common touch” with the Great Unwashed…


Key in toy boat


And when you get tired of doing your own driving…




But for the Top Prize for photo-ops, you just can’t get more Ordinary Blokey than hanging out with Ritchie and The Boys…




Still hangin’ out with Ritchie and The Boys…




Ah, John, I think this is The Boys telling you ‘enough is enough, go the f**k home!


Good night John!


Ok… getting a bit wanky now…




And then it just hits rock-bottom, in Key’s eagerness to be In-On-The-Act…




It’s obvious that our esteemed Dear Leader is not shy in front of a camera.

So… what was that you were saying about photo-ops, Ms Kaye?!

[Images and text above re-printed from previous blog-story: John Key is a principled man – except when a photo op arises (A Photo Essay) ]





Radio NZ: Brownlee to take on Foreign Affairs in ministerial reshuffle

Otago Daily Times: Cabinet minister Nick Smith resigns

Fairfax media: Backlash forces Government class size U-turn

NZ Herald: Gloves off – National MPs target Labour’s Jacinda Ardern in series of attacks

Parliament: Hansards – Nikki Kaye

TV3 News: Nikki Kaye launches war of words on Jacinda Ardern

TV3 News – The AM Show: ‘Gloves off’ for Bennett, Ardern on The AM Show

NZ Herald: Bennett rejects ‘hypocrite’ claims

Radio NZ: Govt vetoes paid parental leave bill

Electoral Commission: 2014 General Election Party Lists

Other Blogs

The Standard: “All show and no substance”

The Standard: Nats’ attack on Ardern backfires

The Standard: Nats’ attack on Ardern – Day 3

The Daily Blog: With all due respect to Nikki Kaye and Paula Bennett, if you want to slag off Jacinda Ardern

Previous related blogposts

National MPs – giving us the finger in election year

Why Hekia Parata should not be sacked

Citizen A – Susan Devoy; Nick Smith; Len Brown; and DoC job losses – 28 March 2013

Nick Smith

Nick Smith – #Rua

Congratulations Dr Smith!!







= fs =


    • Agreed, generally the mainstream media has been pretty passive when dealing with the National party,not too many real journalist left and those that are have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.

  1. This vintage of National Party MP are rotten to the core, all as bad as each other, shallow, dishonest and above all desperate to cling to power no matter what.

    Bennett especially epitomises all that is wrong with them. A near lifetime recipient of tax payer money in one way ir another, she has ironically made a past time of denigrating those who dare challenge her ways and most especially those far less fortunate than herself.

    Were any of us to behave in the workplace the personalised shitty way she does to others they would be justifiably sacked. A leader she will never be.

    As for Kaye, you have far, far too much faith in that Nat!

      • And as an after-thought, National produced Marilyn Waring – a woman with a strong social conscience who stood up to Muldoon. (Not that it did her political career much good, I guess.)

        • It is amazing but the National Party of that era are unrecognisable, largely ordinary people, no massive wealth, no daily polling, no dirty politics wing, no massive donation machine and ironically a lot more honest and transparent. I think many of their MP’s had social consciences back then.

          And despite all the criticism of Muldoon, as imperfect as he was, he too had a social conscience and I can say that first hand from a Labour voting house.

          The only constant now is the name.

  2. To be fair, something I’m loathed to do in Keys case, but seriously, Prime Ministers shake hands and do photo ops. Its like a thing. And having a PM who avoided shaking the hand of the Australian PM and recoiled in horror at babies and such, would be, well, pretty cool, but majorly awkward….

  3. So Bennett says it’s “robust” debate rather than personal. Does that mean that both her and Gerry Brownlee like to eat robust dinners. Or does Bennett dress in over-sized robust clothes, nothing personal. As the saying goes, Ardern is all class, Bennett is all as..

    • “Robust” is just a euphemism for behaving like a toxic shrew, something in which Paula Bennett could take a master class… along with hypocrisy. If Duncan Garner had either a spine, or some testicles, he’d have hauled Bennett over the coals for what was a blatant attempt to goad Ardern into retaliation. (It would have so much easier to then resort to that hoary old cliche, “But, but… Labour does it too!”)

      Furthermore, I don’t think Bennett is actually aware of what the word ‘condescending’ means, because in this instance, it’s not really applicable. All Ardern said was that she’s familiar with how Nikki Kaye generally conducts herself politically, and the personal attack seemed very much out of character. How remarking on this is “displaying an attitude of patronising superiority” is anyone’s guess. There was most definitely condescension going on there, but it wasn’t from Jacinda Ardern.

  4. Overkill, Frank, overkill, with the photos. But anyway, Nikki Kaye and many others in the Nat’s caucus and cabinet are only there, because they could only get by, survive, or in some cases “thrive” under the protective Teflon wings of former PM John Key.

    He did all the photo ops, he shone and shook hands, he chatted with the MSM and public, he got away with almost anything, and the attention was almost exclusively on him. The others only “shone” in his presence, they all tried to get a bit of that “glory” when being around him, now that he is gone, the true look, the true character, the true lack of lustre is evident.

    English is dry and dull, serious and struggling for proper words at times, he is a rather un-charismatic “leader”.

    Hence the not that hot and competent MPs and Ministers, including Kaye, now come out with their not so pretty faces and words and gestures, and they are only exposing their deficits, their unprofessionalism and so forth.

    Wait how the shine will go, wait how they will all look less impressive, like Nikki, she is becoming more miserable, I have seen her in the House, not looking relaxed and happy anymore, if she ever was.

    I do not envy her for her struggle that she had with cancer, and hence I will treat her carefully, she is still a human being, that has been through a bit, she is also having human weakness, I suspect she was encouraged by her “leaders” to conduct that attack in Parliament, perhaps rather instructed to lead the attack.

    She is just one of a troupe of losers, losers to be, once September has come, we will see them all hurry away into the background, as their time will surely be over.

    • Overkill, Frank, overkill, with the photos

      You should see the ones I couldn’t fit in, Mike…!

      I suspect she was encouraged by her “leaders” to conduct that attack in Parliament, perhaps rather instructed to lead the attack.

      I concur, Mike. “Encouraged”, or “pressured”. Her behaviour certainly came as a shock to Ardern – hence why the attack seemed so out-of-character.

      Let’s hope the next time her colleagues “encourage” her to repeat the performance, she declines. As I said, it does her no favours to be a Bennett Mini-Me.

      • I don’t know if any of these are from the Nelson Mandela funeral trip. I hope there are so we know got our moneys worth.

        I remember hearing at the time that Key’s official party included a photographer.

        So my tax money paid for someone to take photos of Key and catch him with the Prime Ministers of Australia, Canada and wherever to add to his gravitas. At the time I wrote to ask how much we’d spent on that little extravagance.

  5. “Nikki Kaye has shown that she is not above cheap politicking” ?

    She showed more than five years ago that she should never be near the Education portfolio when she said that 20% of kids were leaving school unable to read and write. Using a critical, to some sacred, part of our present and future for that sort of cheap politicking showed she is unworthy. Perpetuating that lie, unsustainable crap for her political ends was a sign of the woman.

    “It was an orchestrated, pre-planned, personalised attack.” (the Ardern business.)

    So the new Minister of Education who will front all the stuff about kids bullying orchestrates “pre-planned, personalised attacks”? So the new Minister of Education in the van about the evils of cyber-bullying,
    orchestrates “pre-planned, personalised attacks”?

    Frank, your plea to Kaye is to, “Be the person you really are.”

    There you have the person she is.

  6. Hmm..

    I certainly agree with you there Frank, (and I especially love your photo essay!) but I tend to see opportunity rather than horror at bad behaviour.

    The opportunity is simply just how little belief National have that they can win in September.

    The more they sharpen their knives and buzz-saws, the more panicked they appear.

    The more panicked they appear, the less they look like a government to be.


  7. Frank
    I thought Dear Leader had left these pages. I thought my tender tummy was safe from rising bile.

    Please. Pretty please – this little petal would appreciate a Warning: trigger alert before that person is paraded. 🙂

    “The simple reality that being in Opposition renders an MP with very little legislative power.”

    Which same also applies to Winston who has been lambasted for ‘not doing more for Northland; and what about the bridges, eh?’

    It must be hard for any member of the Opposition to get traction and collaboration with the Treasury bench mob in an election year, when the sewers are running fast and deep.

    • Please. Pretty please – this little petal would appreciate a Warning: trigger alert before that person is paraded.

      Point noted,. Andrea. 🙂 (Especially, I am guessing, after mealtimes, when people have eaten…?) 😉

      Which same also applies to Winston who has been lambasted for ‘not doing more for Northland; and what about the bridges, eh?’

      To be fair, Winston Peters never made the “ten bridges” promise. That came from desperate Nats.

      Hopefully Peters will make good use of the failure to meet that promises, come 23 September. He has every right to hold the Nats to account and make it an election issue.

    • Winston could say “apple trees” and if there weren’t suddenly 4 million more apple trees in Northland the upset Nat people would be grizzling about him not delivering on promises.

      That’s how stupid the situation is and how stupid they are.

  8. Kaye is a scary – even vice chair of the junior IDU! Like Key she is no moderate!

    Auckland council has become much worse since Kaye has been involved.

    from Wiki

    Kaye joined the National Party in 1998, becoming women’s vice-chair of the southern region of the New Zealand Young Nationals. She is presently an International Vice-Chairman of the International Young Democrat Union.

    She holds up former National MP Katherine Rich as one of her role models.[4] Kaye’s own policies, placing her in the socially liberal wing of the National Party,[5] have been criticised by some people in her own party, where some have called her a “high maintenance backbencher”. Others have called her “obsessive”, or, in a more positive vein, “driven”.[5] However, commentators have argued that her stance is unlikely to hurt her in her marginal electorate, which has traditionally voted Labour.[5]

    Kaye was elected the deputy chair of the Government Administration Select Committee in February 2011. In her first parliamentary term, she also sat on the Local Government and Environment Select Committee and the Auckland Governance Legislation Select Committee. Through her time in Parliament on these committees she has been heavily involved in the review of the Resource Management (Simplifying and Streamlining) Amendment Bill and legislation creating the Auckland Council.[10]

  9. Nikki Kaye did herself no favours with that attack on Ardern. It just showed her as petty and vindictive as other tory politician like Collins and Brownlee.

    Shame on you, Ms Kaye, shame!

  10. Regarding the loss of Nick Smith, as a political conservative I am cheering because the man is an idiot. He’s only lasted this long because he’s the best friend of Bill English.

    However I have far more sympathy for Hekia Parata. The education portfolio was always going to be a challenge because it is the battleground against unionism in NZ (teachers currently comprise just over half of total union members). Despite that, her performance record is factually outstanding: The educational outcomes for both Maori and PI have lifted significantly under her governance of the ministry of education. I hope she gets another shot at it in the future because she has delivered results that others failed to do.

    • The education portfolio was always going to be a challenge because it is the battleground against unionism in NZ


      Unionism is voluntary in this country, Andrew. So it’s none of your fucking business if people want to join or not.

  11. It certainly is Frank….right up until it impacts the Nation’s educational outcomes.

    In the past decade we’ve seen teachers unions protecting, excusing and even hiding all manner of unsavoury people, from thieves & fraudsters through to drug dealers, child porno addicts and even pedophiles.

    It tells us a lot about where the unions real priorities are – and it’s not the children!

    At the same time they have fought tooth and nail over Charter schools, not because they’re bad but because they undermine union hegemony in the education system.

    Luckily, union membership is in long term decline and I will welcome the day when new teachers refuse to be intimidated into joining these ratbags.

    • None of what you said is remotely true. It represents your hatred for unionised workers, and nothing else. Like this bit;

      Luckily, union membership is in long term decline and I will welcome the day when new teachers refuse to be intimidated into joining these ratbags.

      You can’t prove that statement because like so many of your comments, Andrew, they are lies.

      If teacher’s unions are so good at “intimidating” workers to “joining these ratbags” – why aren’t all workers around the country unionised? Why are the same methods of “intimidation” used?

      I’ll tell you why; because you made it up.

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