Sins Of Admission – critiquing John Armstrong’s attack on Metiria


JOHN ARMSTRONG rails against Metiria Turei’s admission that she lied to the welfare authorities. Like so many of the outbursts emanating from the Right on this subject, however, his words speak more eloquently of his own failings than Metiria’s.

Lacking the imagination for empathy, Armstrong and his ilk cling for comfort to the rules, all the rules, and nothing but the rules.

“She endeavoured to turn her breach of the law into a launching pad for her party’s welfare policy. That is audacious. It is also the height of arrogance. It is also to enter very dangerous territory. It implies you are above the law. It says it is okay to break the law in order to try and change it.”

Yes, John, that’s exactly what it implies. But, tell me, do you think that Mahatma Ghandi, Dr Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela would have any ethical difficulty dealing with those implications?

Metiria was required to raise her daughter in the years immediately following the Mother of All Budgets. You must remember that extraordinary act of social violence, John? When Ruth Richardson, with enthusiastic support from Jenny Shipley, slashed the already meagre incomes of New Zealand’s most vulnerable citizens by 25 percent? When the National Government of Jim Bolger did exactly what Metiria told her party a Green government would never do: used poverty as a weapon against its own people?

Do you really expect us to believe, John, that you would have accepted the National Government’s vicious policies without protest or subterfuge – and watched your child go hungry? If that really is your position, then why did you write: “There is sympathy for her past plight and respect for her efforts in pulling herself out of it.”

Clearly, you understand that falling into the clutches of Work & Income was, and is, a predicament – a “plight” – and that getting out of it isn’t easy. It requires a working knowledge of every trick in the book. Some of those tricks are legal. Others are not. But, for their children, people do what they have to do. If you would rather they didn’t “steal” from the Government, John, then why not insist that the Government gives them enough to live on?

But you don’t want to do that, do you, John? No, you would rather use the poor against the poor. Like when you write: “Turei’s flouting of the law will further alienate low-income families in which both parents work long hours and who consequently cannot abide welfare cheats. Those voters are already deserting the centre-left. Turei’s holier-than-thou disposition is hardly going to attract them back.”

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And how would you know what low-income families are thinking, John? Has it never occurred to you that those “welfare cheats” (what an odious gob of verbal spittle that is!) are the sons and daughters of the working poor? How many of them, do you suppose, have attempted to support their children at the local Work & Income office and experienced first-hand the icy condescension and bureaucratic cruelty of MSD employees?

No, John, you don’t know anything about that world of hurt and anger. What you do know, however, is what they should be thinking – and you will not hesitate to tell them at every given opportunity. Because the Right is terrified – yes, terrified – that Metiria’s admission that she was willing to lie to keep food on her little family’s table might persuade a dangerously large number of those low-income families that at least some Green MPs know what their own children are going through. And that the prospect of MSD’s hated “sanctions” being abolished might even convince those families that, this time, it’s worth casting a vote.

Metiria is guilty of a crime – but not the one John Armstrong rails against. Her transgression was to break ranks with the socio-political formation that has kept Richardson’s and Shipley’s welfare cuts bleeding and raw for more than quarter-of-a-century.

When Metiria Turei told the Green AGM that: “We will not be a government that uses poverty as a weapon against its own people”,  she must have known that she was breaking the biggest rule of all.

And that the John Armstrongs of this world would never forgive her.


  1. Yes the empathy deficit is what many on the right lack
    J Key had it in spades
    Poverty is our biggest tragedy and we can only address it when wages for work can equal the costs of living in this country for us all.

    • Your math isn’t enormous enough. O.k. So we’ve spent abit of money on wages. At the same time, men, woman and children are dying. Just ridiculous and amazing at the same time.

    • +100
      Neoliberalism is economic psychopathy. It has all but destroyed our society.

      For any hope of change, National & Act must be removed from office this September 23rd.

      For you and your loved ones sake, please vote for party guaranteed not to support them to ensure this happens.

    • @ Rob … Here here. Agree.

      It could also be said, much to this government’s shame and under National’s watch, impoverishment has become NZ’s major growth industry!

    • Let’s not be blinded by our “solid kiwi straightshooting” PM.
      John key was kryptonite to the Left with his hale-fellow complacency.

      Now in Bill English we have got a bit of bluff, Middle-New Zealand bigotry.

      Don’t let it be overlooked that the much-touted algorithms of SW’s flagship proposals are designed to identify and attack the “ferals of tomorrow” in a worrying real-life version of Minority Report.

      Just the sort of thing that Middle New Zealand would love.

      Let’s strip them of their kids and, ideally, jail them before they do anything we don’t like.

    • Couldn’t agree more and it looks like that ruse of “retirement” was John Armstrong getting the boot from NZHerald, so he scuttled over to TVNZ instead.

      • @ Louis … True.

        And also Armstrong being rolled out in election year, it seems is still on the payroll of Natz to spread the dirt!

    • Yes Armstrong lost any credibility he ever had over the David Cunliffe affair. It put all his right wing journalism into perspective.

  2. Yes indeed, young Chris. A quite correct assumption I believe.

    Metiria’s outburst had the effect on me of seriously considering voting for the Greens for the FIRST TIME EVER!

    I’m too much of a leftie to have considered their middle class nonsense to have been at all relevant in the past. They are still playing these stupid games now, but Metitiria (whom I always suspected of being a leftie) has openly declared herself, and, by association, the Green Party too, as being more truly of the left.

    Hoo-bloody-ray is all I can add…

  3. John Armstrong – naked

    It is so good of Armstrong to reveal his true self at last. We watched for years as he faithfully sucked up to his employers. He acted as they acted – solely for the wealthy of Aotearoa.

    He would use any outrageous means he could including omission and rank dishonesty to cunningly destroy the truthful character of those of the Left of Politics.

    John Armstrong is and was a Dishonest man.

    His affect and his employers affect on this Nation is Monstrous.

    In comparison with a mother doing her best to keep her child fed and cared for, Armstrong and The Herald are Monstrous offenders. They play only for their own interests and not for the people of Aotearoa.

    If Armstrong and The Herald are perturbed by a struggling Mother shoring up a lean larder for her kiddy (while Johnny Armstrong ate beef) then they might set up a Department in their Herald Offices to prosecute all their wealthy friends who have underpaid their Tax over many years.

    National Party Stinks of Corruption. National Party Politicians rort their entitlements. National Party so called Ministers piss on the poor. National Ministers are lazy and incompetent. They exist only for the wealthy.

    So is the one sided old Herald. The Herald knows that many of its wealthy friends have not paid their taxes to the tune of $Billions. While poor beneficiaries with small amounts of debt have been rounded up viciously and despicably and forced to pay. Punished.

    Armstrong – You are a Bastard if you continue to protect your wealthy criminal mates – while the poor are trodden into your unfair shit. And you know it.

  4. Well said Chris. Metiria has my vote for her honesty and her policy of not punishing people for being poor. Unfortunately if there is a Labour / Green coalition government, I believe, Labour will attempt to undermine this policy at every turn.

    • You are all sick if you think stealing in any form is wrong.
      Your disgusting attitude towards your fellow persons is not what
      I thought was the way we treat kiwis.
      If you want communism look back to the countries that got rid of it.
      While the working class were treated like low class people’s the
      Leaders lived the life that makes wealthy people of New Zealand
      Look like peasants.
      As for mr trotter he speaks with a forked tongue.

  5. Yes , this little man John Armstrong was also involved in nasty wee operation involving a corrupt Chinese businessman and a fictitious $100.00 bottle of wine to smear the Opposition and demand David Cunliffe resign just before the last election , so it seems…


    The Donghua Liu Affair: Evidence of Collusion … – The Daily Blog…/the-donghua-liu-affair-evidence-of-collusion-between-th…

    Why the Labour Party Student Intern ‘scandal’ is a … – The Daily Blog…/why-the-labour-party-student-intern-scandal-is-a-smear/


    He has a history of these sorts of things , doesn’t he…

    Which , when under scrutiny , begs the question,… why in fact should John Armstrong be given any credibility at all?

    Save from the fact that he knows most of the public will not concern themselves with the finer details unless it is spoon fed to them… I would say a good many of these types rely on that fact… and I would say John Armstrong is well in bed with the likes of the New Zealand Initiative.

    Yes,… I seem to be finding myself on a roll with the NZ Initiative these days,… such a pity… such along name to have to continually have to type out…

    And so we see that this John Armstrong is really just the propaganda spearhead for groups such as the NZI,… and the political front people take the form of the National party senior MP’s – and of course , – the PM.

    NEO LIBERALISM is what John Armstrong is here to protect, nothing more , nothing less.

    And the naked terror that the 33 year long entrenchment of the neo liberal ideology is being challenged, and starting to crumble is the job of such front liners as John Armstrong to prevent.

    And so the narrative they choose to push is the simplistic one of ‘honesty’ . However , it is a perverted morality ,… one which fails to mention ( deliberately ) the true motives and even greater dishonesty for the reasons for Ruth Richardson’s ‘ Mother of all Budgets ‘ ( 1991 ) in the first place. And the Employment Contracts Act 1991.

    It is said that when Ruth Richardson was drawing up her ‘ Mother of all Budgets’ , … she approached Treasury to ascertain the minimum wage so as to set the LOWST POSSIBLE level that a family could survive on to pay the rent . No food, no power.

    – and then she set the unemployment benefit 20% lower than that.


    As for the Employment Contracts Act 1991 ,…perhaps we could find out part of the real reasons for it , … right here :

    Ken Douglas, then president of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, recalled in the 1996 documentary Revolution:

    … ” The Employment Contracts Act was deliberately intended to individualise the employment relationship. It was a natural outcome of the ideological propaganda of rugged individualism, of self-interest and greed and the appeal to individuals that you could find better for you by climbing over the tops of your colleagues, your mates, and so on. Ruth Richardson was very clear, very blunt, very honest about its purpose. It was to achieve a dramatic lowering of wages, very, very quickly ”…


    THIS , … is why there is so much poverty in New Zealand , and why it has worsened steadily over the decades, and hastened with the National party’s rush to open such things as the floodgates on cheap immigrant labour , … and this is why , the bold stand taken by Metiria Turei has cracked wide open the fortress that neo liberalism has built around itself.

    It threatens to undo 33 years of meticulous building of brick on brick the creation of an exploitable , low waged economy of individualized contracts and a compliant workforce that would not dare to rise and challenge the current staus quo.

    The heroic stand of Metiria Turei on the degradation and absolutely malevolent forces running the DSW , and the welfare state is a major pillar knocked out. And there is no turning back now.

    The second major pillar to fall would be the dismantling of the Employment Contracts Act 1991 , and the return of collective bargaining and the resetting the current power imbalance between labour and capital to a more equitable footing.

    If this were to happen , the last great capstone of neo liberalism would come crashing down mightily , and questions would need to be asked ,… who benefited from those 3 long decades of deliberate and venal propaganda and dishonesty to be the cover for the likes of the New Zealand Initiative and their London based Mont Pelerin Society overlords?

    John Armstrong and others like him know the answers… and they cannot afford to let Metrira Turei be seen to speak out the truth about just who really ,… has been so deliberately and manipulatively dishonest for more than 30 years.

    • the mere mention of ken douglas had me almost vomiting for he was the labour movements 5th column, just another of the ilk of moore

  6. The right wing are just self entitled pricks. So long as they get corporate welfare but anyone else they disallow because they are below there station.

  7. ” (what an odious gob of verbal spittle that is!) ”

    What a fantastic sentence that is.

    Great Post @ C T.

  8. I don’t really think it is the actual lying that bugs Armstrong so much.
    What really bugs him is that by a member of the left doing it in public it makes his mates on the right look so much worse because they have repeatedly been caught out lying but still won’t admit it.
    Not a good idea for Armstrong to cast the first stone.

    • Throwing stones at Metiria – what about the PM robbing the state to house his family in Karori while pretending to live in Dipton! Bet that added up to a pretty penny before he was busted.

  9. John Armstrong, who hath neither love, nor charity, nor help for pain.

    Standing alone, on his darkling plain of wretchedness and blame.

  10. Really well said Chris. The political lines are drawn now and we know who does not care for those in need. Armstrong included.
    Time for a new government that cares.

  11. Really well said Chris. The political lines are drawn now and we know who does not care for those in need. Armstrong included.
    Time for a new government that cares.

  12. You would think the Hoity Toity would be worried by what is happening to the country. I mean they have to live here to. They won’t like it when they have to gate themselves in to lock the Hordes out.

    • Yes and come and see how the elderly now have to live makes me sick, as most can’t afford power to keep warm.

      I was a middle class before 2008 now sunk to the growing list of the poor and sick myself, same on this toxic administration.

      Please don’t only rely on the green Party to come to the rescue and save us by ejecting the National Government as they are stealing votes from the left now and not the right.

      So we will wind up with anther three years of national if you do.

      Here is some reasons to consider this happening as we are now just eight weeks fro the election and still some in the opposition are squabbling.

      That was the reason I got out as I saw this from the inside.

      I remain a committed green thinker and practicer for the environment
      QUOTE; Gordon Campbell. NZ HERALD 19/7/2017.

      “In recent weeks, the Greens have resorted to Plan B, whereby they shore up their base and win votes as a stronger party of the centre-left than the hapless Labour team.
      To all intents, this would suggest that election 2017 is already over, and that the Greens now appear to be positioning themselves – pragmatically, but with principles still relatively intact – for 2020. For the Greens, the winnable votes are on the left, and always have been.”

      • That time in 2008 when Banks and Key sat in the cafe denouncing the elderly as worthless, that their vote doesn’t count because they’re a dying breed. Yes the National government working for All New Zealanders. Oh just fuck off Joyce and co. You may fool some of the people some of the time but not all of the people all of the time.

        • Thanks for that Bert,

          I was Chemically poisoned at a work-site job overseas and came home to recover in 1999 with my family.

          I won my Workers appeal case after a seven year battle but only got a small weekly assistance from the country I was working in.

          The new Labour lead Government had some heart to have some assistance then and helped me and wife to finish the kids schooling before preparing them for their working life, since I was disabled.

          Since 2008 Nactional have systematically taken all those safety nets away so we have seen the worst of what this Government is, that others cannot see, and the elderly are suffering for sure and this government have absolutely no heart at alll, so we hoe that all opposition Parties get there differences sorted out for all of us together.

          Of they can sort their differences out for all the elderly who are the most forgotten and abused among us all.

          Winston has the best policies of all the parties for the elderly, and the other parties must support this to allow the elderly to live a more reasonable end of life experience rather than facing a slow torture to death.

          Love begins from home.

    • Hi Jono

      You are right.

      if the three political parties (NZ First, Greens and Labour) do not unite to get entirely rid of the appalling Government we currently have – the wealthy will find themselves rather soon in a bit of a pickle.

      Scum who think that a mother should starve her baby to death rather than steal food, will have a very hard time indeed. Leaving aside the cruel Tory poms, Western Law has never forbidden parents to obtain food from whatever source to feed their families.

      Johnny Armstrong knows that. He is utterly without shame or principle.


        Agree 100% with your excellent summation.

        I’m a mother and grandmother and there would be no way I’d allow my two children or two grandchildren to suffer through deprivation of life’s basic necessities.

        I’d steal if it meant their survival!

        Ignorant condemnation of the vulnerable is so easy, when one is living a cushy life! Armstrong has no idea what hardship and struggle is. Neither do his Natz masters. They have absolutely no idea how painful it must be for some parents to see their children suffer from lack of shelter, food, warm clothing etc. Personally I couldn’t imagine anything worse. The only option being to take what they can, anyway they can, to nurture their children! It’s what good parents do in desperation!

        And in NZ there are far too many Kiwi families living in desperate circumstances! This must change.

    • When you’re borderline delusional and exist in a carefully insulated bubble, you don’t worry. Well, you don’t worry about the poor and disenfranchised, mostly because you don’t know any of them. They’re like unicorns and fairies — the fanciful imaginings of dour lefties, rabid greenies and Sue Bradford.

      No, all is well in your realm of comfort and luxury, and the only thing that really irks you is that they’ve recently raised the price of a soy latte at that trendy cafe in Mission Bay you like so much. Dreadful, simply dreadful. However will you cope? You’d best go shopping this instant.

  13. If you look above at Martyn Bradbury’s description of how beneficiaries are treated by the state’s departments, who is the more dishonest?
    D J S

  14. Sadly there is much pettiness and nastiness around in this supposedly (fake) ‘egalitarian’ country of ‘hard working Kiwis’. I hear the latter being used as a popular slogan of many a politicians.

    That is, because they know, most are working, whether with some satisfaction about what they do, or whether with a grudge, because they have to, and struggle to pay their bills.

    But my observation is, that only some have sympathy for a person like Metiria, rightly so, but many do not approve of her having kind of cheated the welfare system.

    Two and a half decades of relentless conditioning, wedge driving, hate preaching against the state and those directly dependent on its support has not gone past without any effect on the ordinary Kiwis.

    Instead of protests, once the unions and any opposition of some numbers were crushed in the early 1990s, most adapted, adjusted and “got on with it”.

    Now few bother feeling true empathy with people that are sole parents, that cannot find or hold down a job, that drop out of university, they judge, they frown upon, they do not associate with any person dependent on WINZ, as they perceive it as being ‘hopeless’ people that end up there.

    It is the same with the beggars in the street, too many rather want a ‘clean’ street, and have them moved on to some place where they are not seen, the homeless included, to be looked after, but not given much of a handout.

    And that is where Metiria’s honesty and her push for increasing benefits, and dropping sanctions, will not get all that much of public support, it is simply stuff preaching to the converted, which will not change the election, definitely with the still so biased journalists we have deliver us endless news about what does not really matter much.

    Also the Greens have a bit of a flawed general approach, as they backed off reducing immigration, how can you have increased social and other essential spending, and at the same time keep growing an already under-serviced population?



      “they (Greens) backed off reducing immigration, how can you have increased social and other essential spending, and at the same time keep growing an already under-serviced population?”

  15. The real truth about today’s Green Party, is that they have gone more into a “social policy” and less than an “Environmentally responsible” Party.

    If they become a support partner inside a national Government they will give away more Environmental policy for “social policy concessions” from National.

    I just wished they were open and honest with the electorate before they vote.

  16. The real truth about today’s Green Party, is that they have gone more into a “social policy” and less than an “Environmentally responsible” Party.

    If they become a support partner inside a national Government they will give away more Environmental policy for “social policy concessions” from National.

    I just wished they were open and honest with the electorate before they vote.

  17. Few study philosophy and the death of interconnected or social spirituality means that few people are consciously aware of the distinction between natural law and positive law, or legal positivism.

    Armstrong seems to acknowledge some form of natural law and dismiss it in his dismissal of Metiria’s “holier than thou” attitude or stance, spat out in defiance of a higher law while seeming to acknowledge that it exists; spat out like a demon-possessed vassal. Abandoned hospitals, dark woods, and, apparently, old husks like Armstrong are the favorite haunts of the neoliberal wraiths – seemingly there but fleeing to Panama on inspection – that would haunt the nation’s children at night…

    David Seymour is the smart young man who studied political philosophy and came to libertarianism via utilitarianism – how all perfectly rational! If his father ever took him on the tour of the city it was as orchestrated as a tour of Pyongyang, and he has as yet not had the wisdom to lift the veil, and to listen. Food is the first cause, David, for many people today. Wander out on your Palace again, David. Do you see the sick man and the dead man – dead on the steps of the church door?

    Why is compassion seen as such a great weakness by wider society? Isn’t it weaker to horde up wheat like a dormouse, looking inward, and timidly run from every stranger who wanders by? Since when was it brave and stoic to be selfish and timid? Does an imaginary Allblack stand at your gate, little dormouse, to defend your crumbs and disguise your squeaks of cowardly terror: “in aknowledgement of my disgrace before God go I”? That seems a fitting motto for Mr Armstrong.

    • if the Hoity Toity lose all the compassìon the Hordes will lose all theres aswell. Then the Hoity Toity will have problems. Then the world goes to hell in a hand cart.

      • Rubbish. A period of disruption, maybe… a few people and embarrassed and disgraced here and there. After that we’ll have proportiate tax, the rule of law by honest lawbrokers and better civic participation as government is forced to be more transparent and the wider public receives better education and health services and more free time. Why are the right always so relentlessly negative? Is it because it is about to lose the U.K., New Zealand, and then Australia?

        Good luck, Boris.

        • On that, Or him, why can’t we be united in Cricket?

          So Boris condescends all the way from the U.K. To tell us “threats” might mean we should sacrifice ourselves for the like of him, again. Jolly-ho! Can’t wait…

  18. Chris – nailed it.

    By the way, this is the same John Armstrong who demanded David Cunliffe’s resignation after the non-existent $100,000 “bottle of wine” from Donghua Liu.

    When Armstrong apologised for his hasty (and incorrect) rush to judgement, it was an off-the-cuff, brief “mea culpa”;

    What is worrying is the decline in voter turnout, especially among the young.

    Regrets? A couple. First, failure to immerse myself deeper into Maori political culture. Second, effectively calling for David Cunliffe to resign when he was Labour leader over something which was relatively trivial. Sorry, David .

    A parting shot. It was never my role to express personal opinion. But speaking as someone of English nationality, for heaven’s sake, let’s change the flag. While New Zealand is a young country, it now has a much greater self-confidence.


    Yeah “Sorry, David”.

    A two word apology and then moving onto the flag referendum. If ever there was a man totally out of touch with New Zealand doing it tough in the 21st Century, then it is John “Sorry David” Armstrong.

    No doubt one day a flash of insight will cross Armstrong’s feeble brain and he’ll mutter;

    “Sorry, Metiria”.

    Oh well, that’s ok, then. Damage done, but a two word apology undoes the damage, eh, Mr Armstrong?

    Bit of a bugger about that darned flag referendum, eh, wot, old chap?

  19. On the road to social justice….”Are we there yet?”

    Turei didn’t break the law to change it.
    She broke it, as have so many many others, to feed her kids and allow them to have a real life.

    To change the law, she had to wait until her circumstances were such that the law had few sanctions that could harm her. At that time she could represent all those who, guiltily, had to commit “crimes” to get by.

    The trick is to make laws that are so self-evidently just that to break them would be a crime against morality, society and statute.

    We sure aren’t there yet.

  20. I’m quite surprised by the level of vitriol John Armstrong has been directing towards Metiria Turei for her honesty, especially since he said nothing when Bill English reluctantly admitted he’d been committing housing benefit fraud in 2009.

  21. The Big Double Dipper from Dipton got off scot free for housing benefit claim fraud however if he was a Maori from South Auckland he would have gone for a big skate.

  22. This whole episode over Turei’s admission of what she did to fucking survive and not starve is straight outta Dickens. It’s like Bleak House the Old Curiosity Shoppe and A Christmas Carol in one hit.Of course nobody bothers to read Dickens anymore. His writing clarified and sharpened my understanding of capitalism, child exploitation and greed and the legality of wealth obtained by deception more than any other writer of fiction.

    • Indeed Shona.

      Sadly the great novelists of British history have been replaced by the Ayn Rand school of jungle law…

    • Yes and Little Dorrit being brought up in a debtors’ prison has many lessons to be gained about Govt and bureaucracy – its do nothing politicians and the famous Circumlocution office a great model for WINZ. Yes Shona!

  23. Harsh public attacks are to be expected, after all Metiria has struck a cord and the right will be worried that people might wake up to vote.

  24. The rule Metiria broke was the one about abiding by the hypocrisy of New Zealand society

  25. John Armstrong, if you’re reading this, you should hang your head in shame.

    And I can’t be bothered devoting more time to a man with so little understanding of what people at the bottom are suffering.

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