The List Candidate: Winston Peters and the Looming Covid-19 Depression.


WHY IS IT, that of all the party leaders only Winston Peters fully understands the economic ramifications of the Covid-19 Pandemic? Perhaps it’s his age. That might sound snarky, but it isn’t. None of the other party leaders are old enough to possess a solid mental picture of what New Zealand was like before the Neoliberal Revolution of 1984-1993.

Just do the maths. Jacinda was born in 1980 – which makes her 4-years-old in 1984. Simon Bridges, born in 1976, was 8. James Shaw and Marama Davidson, both born in 1973, were 11. The Act leader, David Seymour, born in 1983, was hardly out of nappies!

Now, consider Winston Peters. He was born in 1945, just as the Second World War was drawing to a close. He grew to adulthood in the “golden years” of the post-war boom, nurtured by the political, economic and social infrastructure of Mickey Savage’s cradle-to-grave welfare state. In 1984, as Labour set about dismantling this crowning political achievement of the New Zealand working-class, Peters was already 39-years-old.

The eldest of the other party leaders, Shaw and Davidson, will possess only the haziest memories of pre-Rogernomics New Zealand. What I remember of New Zealand in 1967, when I was 11-years-old, is made up mostly of family events, popular songs, movies and television programmes. As far as political memories go, I struggle to recall any names beyond Keith Holyoake, Harold Wilson and President Johnson. I had only the vaguest notion of what capitalism was, but I was pretty sure that “communism” was a very bad thing. Now, it’s entirely possible that the Green Party co-leaders were much more politically aware than I was at the age of 11, but it’s much more likely that they, like me, were far too busy being children.

Five years on, however, in 1972, my political memories are much more vivid. I shall certainly never forget that Saturday evening in November when for the first time in 12 years there was change of government. There had been a Labour government in my lifetime, but I was no older in 1957 than David Seymour was in 1984. For me, “Big Norm” was a political phenomenon: a breaker of moulds; a man who made it possible to believe in a better world; my hero.

What would Shaw’s and Davidson’s memories of 1989 have been? Of a riven Labour Party tearing itself to pieces over “Rogernomics”? Of a National Party, circling like a flock of vultures over the bloody entrails of a discredited government? Of the unsettling sense of a world they’d never really known being dismantled before their eyes? Of its replacement being full of sharp edges and dangerous spikes: a world that promised winners everything and losers nothing? Did they celebrate their sixteenth birthdays dreaming about building a better world, or wondering how to navigate their way through such a shitty one? A world where walls came down; students were shot down; heroes fell down; and history itself was said to be winding down.

Winston Peters, meanwhile, possessed a very clear picture of what his country looked like before Rogernomics and after “Ruthanasia”. He and the National Party had been elected on a “no ifs, no buts, no maybes” promise to restore “the decent society”. What was that? For Peters it was a society that allowed a dirt-poor cow-cockey’s son from Northland to become a pin-striped lawyer in a double-breasted suit. It was a society that offered work to all who wanted it – and felt only disdain for those who didn’t. It was a society that knew better than to leave the rich in charge of an economy. A society smart enough to know that in such a small country only the state was big enough to guarantee both prosperity and fairness.

Most importantly, Peters had lived long enough to know that what New Zealanders had done once they could do again. That economic change is the product not simply of improved technology but of political choice.

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A whole generation before Columbus set foot on the islands of the Caribbean, the Chinese were sailing 600-foot ocean-going junks all the way to East Africa. They had the technology to become the masters of the planet, but not the political will. The great sailing junks ended up rotting at their moorings. Voyages beyond the horizon were forbidden. Europeans conquered the world.

Peters loves these historical counterfactuals. He revels in knowing who Friedrich List (1789-1846) was and how his “national system” of economics transformed Germany into an industrial behemoth second only to the United States. He would write articles lamenting the fact that while the university book stores of South Korea were full of List’s economic nationalist ideas, most Kiwi students have never heard of him – let alone been taught about his kind of economics.

Friedrich List (1789-1846) Economic Nationalist.


Certainly, it’s a pretty safe bet that Jacinda, Simon, James, Marama and David could not tell you very much at all about List and the state-led capitalism which he championed and which has, historically, always outperformed the laissez-faire variety so beloved of the English-speaking capitalist countries. Not that their ignorance of economic nationalism worries them unduly. Having no clear memory of the world that existed before the triumph of Neoliberalism, they find it difficult to imagine that countries and economies could possibly be run successfully according to principles not sanctioned by their Treasury advisors.

The other party leaders may snigger at Peters now, but when the unemployment rate is climbing steadily towards 15 percent, and a third of New Zealand’s small businesses have shut down, there will be much less to snigger at. When Neoliberalism’s failure can no longer be hidden – even from those politicians who have grown up knowing nothing else – the man who has lived long enough to know that his alternative economic model works will be the man to know. And, when all the votes have been counted, he will still be the man who decides which of all those young leaders, born in the 1970s and 80s, becomes New Zealand’s next prime minister.



  1. Great article, though I wonder if you’re being overly optimistic about Winston Peters.

    I doubt that Ardern, Shaw, Davidson, Bridges or Seymour would have heard of List at all. I even wonder how they would react to a journalist asking them to explain what they understand by the term “Keynesian economics.”

  2. 100% Agree Chris Trotter.

    Many of today’s politicians are so young and can’t remember anything but neoliberalism. Our entire education system in NZ is now being dumbed down, and stripped of world history and critiquing cultural queues, as the arts which is the social fabric of a nation, is now NOT considered essential (unlike tobacco and liquor) in our NZ’s own neoliberal led cultural revolution.

    The interesting thing, is that neoliberalism knew to strip the arts first. In NZ it is actually the white collar workers who were the first to become precariat here, aka the journalists, the musicians, the artists all with bona fide degrees in a country that wanted that area, and removed it from the culture.

    A few white collar industries survived helped by strong unions, aka nurses, doctors, teachers, but dirty politics using identity politics and undercutting unions, are stripping out the industry. I think within 5 years those unions will be destroyed in NZ too and becoming like some of the bizarre u turns of unions that have destroyed other unions power.

    Aka unite union seems to be more a migrant support party union than one to improve worker conditions in NZ in that sector. It’s sad, but brainwashing in NZ is so powerful that maybe you should pity the unions instead.

    Maybe they really can’t work out why Skycity doesn’t return their calls or bother to have meetings, or that the supermarkets laugh in their faces when they ask for a pay rise?

  3. That’s certainly what he has in mind. A lifetime’s uphill struggle against the political odds reaching it’s opportunity for fruition at the eleventh hour. I hope he knows what he has to do with the banks.

    D J S

  4. We love this offering Chris as you are 100% correct.

    Remember the age old term;
    “You cant put old heads on young shoulders”??????'t_put_an_old_head_on_young_shoulders
    This term is explamned as;
    ‘You can’t expect a young person to have the wisdom or maturity associated with older people’.

    We are fortunate to have Winston Peters as the mainstay to offer “common sence” policies and thoughts in a new Government still largely not reached QUOTE; “maturity”

    • Agree with Chris 100%.

      How ironic the economist is named Fried Rich-List, or similar.
      His full name being Georg Friedrich List.

      • VV. Ha I like that -Fried-rich list.(clever thinking) Pity the first name wasn’t Gorge instead of Georg.
        Like you I agree with Chris 100%. I’m hoping Winston Peters (Sir Winston sounds OK) will be seen in this way by the voters a bit like some of them see the queen as an icon of stability in the political maelstrom.
        I’m re-liking Trotter now.

        • I agree . It should have been Sir Winston Peters for decades.

          When we compare that title given to the likes of the most corrupt NZ PM of all time who was a pervert pulling pony tails?… it SHOWS there is a far right agenda in this country.

          I would say SIR Scumbag is the only applicable title for the ‘should be tarred and feathered’ former ex FOREX trader non PM this country had to endure and whose name shall not be mentioned.

  5. This is the problem with rose tinted glasses. Through your youthful eyes everything seemed rosy, but they really weren’t.

    Behind the scenes there was a lot of corruption and inefficiency.

    Colleagues of mine (engineers) who worked for the ‘Ministry of Jerks’ as they jokingly call it, regale me with stories of what was going on in the Ministry of Works at the time. Gobsmacking inefficiency and some ‘interesting’ procurement procedures that ensured that favoured friends got the right orders at the right price. I know one guy who resigned from the MoW, and got himself rehired via a UK contractor to do the same job at more than twice the price the following month as a ‘consultant’. Heady days indeed!

    Other old colleagues who worked for the DSIR transport department told me how they were required to write reports that favoured Rootes cars, that just happened to be sold exclusively by Todd Motors, over the clearly superior Japanese cars of the day. By the late 70’s the British cars were so awful that these unofficial rules were relaxed.

    Those were the days of ‘import permits’ where a faceless bureaucrat had the power to decide who was allowed to import what. It was a recipe for corruption. My cousin in Christchurch couldn’t run his motor boat because they wouldn’t let him import a replacement spark plug for the motor. No appeal and no way around it unless he could get hold of some foreign currency on the black market.

    It was the era of family monopolies such as the Spencers. Imagine a country where one family had an absolute monopoly to make paper – everything from letter writing paper through newsprint to toilet rolls. It was a licence to print money.

    It was an era of paying farmers to produce wool and mutton that in the end they couldn’t actually sell. I know an old guy who spent years building freezer stores to accommodate the ever growing number of mutton carcasses that NZ couldn’t export once the UK joined the EEC in the mid 70’s. How’s that for plain bonkers? Those same farmers got paved roads built right up to their farm gates courtesy of the taxpayer.

    So how did NZ survive all this gross inefficiency? It was easy! Post WW2 there was a global shortage of food, particularly protein. So NZ and Aussie could sell everything they made at inflated prices. The problem with windfalls such as this is that they don’t last; meanwhile fat and inefficiency was allowed to grow to the point that NZ was virtually bankrupt by about 1980.

    Chris – the ‘good old days’ aren’t coming back. Thank goodness!

    • Sure there were inefficiencies in the state run entities , and difficult for the politicians to get close enough to the management to eradicate. But once a privately run alternative has a similar monopoly there is no more incentive to maximise efficiency especially when the public is picking up the tab anyway. Added to this tab is the massive profit siphoned off for the “investors” So look at the cost of electricity now cf under the “inefficient” state operation.
      D J S

        • Thankyou for the flattering comment W K I’m not sure I quite deserve it, but in re “The sort of thing neo liberals aspire to but never achieve” it may always be a simpler task to state the evident truth than to obfuscate it.

          D J S

    • Well, Andrew, I certainly can’t fault your memorisation of the neoliberal catechism. Damn near word-perfect – and I should know because I’ve been listening to the same tired old anecdotes, half-truths and outright lies for three-and-a-half decades!

      To TDB’s readers, however, may I offer this reassurance: virtually none of Andrew’s claims are correct. The data contradicts his assertions in practically every respect. So, too, does the lived experience of the overwhelming majority of New Zealanders over the age of 55.

      • So people didn’t need to apply for foreign exchange to take out a subscription for an overseas magazine?

        i remember it differently.

        • Did your economic situation collapse because you couldn’t receive that ‘overseas magazine’?

          Or were you merely frustrated ? I pity you. Did family’s end up living in cars because they couldn’t receive a magazine? I’m sure if they could have had a warm house instead of a car to live in they would surely have forgone that magazine.

          What say you?

        • Ada – Reading ‘Mad’ magazine may have been titillating in your safe secluded little valley – but hey – you’ve got reality television now, and your cup surely overfloweth.

      • Chris, one of the classic examples I forgot to mention was this:
        While I was doing R&D in the meat industry I met a butcher on a south island slaughter line who had been bankrupted as a farmer after the lamb subsidies had been removed by the 4th Labour government. He’d bought a central Otago sheep farm about a year before the change of government with a large loan, but once the subsidies were removed the marginal land that is Otago would never sustain him.
        Ironically the farm he once owned now produces some of the finest Pinot Noir in the world thanks to its poor gravelly soil.
        For me that’s a classic example of why government needs to butt out of business as much as is practical and let entrepreneurs do their thing.

        • Had he been bankrupted by the removal of subsidies ?or buy the imposition of 23% interest on his large borrowings? I bet I know the answer to that!
          D J S

        • Andrew,
          :when I went to Turangi to work on the Tongariro power scheme for the Ministry of Works in 1966 after my apprentice time was over and my induction into the Army had been finished, I learned much from the excellent engineers inside the massive MOW workshops there; – as they were a learning place for many young tradesmen in those days but most of all we were always “onsite tradesmen that saved Government and the taxpayer many thousands of money,

          Why you ask?

          Well here’s the truth. – When at our meetings with our managers we were told constantly that the Ministry tried to use local commercial business’s to carry out their work in maintenance on their earthmoving and other vehicles but the cost was far higher than what MOW would pay to have “onsite” 24hr tradesmen on site.

          So you see the ‘privatisation model’ you crow about doesn’t work when large scale construction projects are being carried out.

          I went onto also work at MANAPOURI Powr scheme in 1967 afterwards.

          That was a ‘private construction site with Utah mining co/ with Williamson-Burnett’ – and that model was a night-mare as the workplace had lots of strikes as it was an unhappy scene, grumblings were always over pay and conditions.

          Then my last construction job was in Rhodesia Now in 1970 as they flew me from Canada as a Kiwi tradesman to work for the Government engineering company called CMED (Central Mechanical equipment Division) and I was often going around the country with a work vehicle land rover or Bedford J2 truck to repair earthmoving equipment down in the Zambesi escarpment or around the Kariba dam, and it was another example of a god functioning government mechanical construction company that was restoring the country.

          Best you work in these government construction industries before you run them down sunshine.

        • Nah , it needs to diversify its knowledge base and subsidize the grape growing wine industry. And to do that it needs big government and a MOW.

          You still don’t get it , do you…

    • The ‘good old days’ were fine just bankrupted by pork barrel politics and mismanagement. Times have changed, we know what we know now to make it work. Ever wonder why we happen to have the oldest and the youngest holding the reigns. Don’t do your head in wondering too much, just know how lucky we finally are.

    • But the good old days enabled those less qualified, employment through car assembly, meat works, timber plants, muffler assembly, industry, industry, industry.
      Neoliberal government through reducing tariffs and importing cheap products decimated our workforce by thousands. So despite a few hiccups you have mentioned, the good old days are sorely needed. Neoliberalism said “leave it to the market”, it did not care one ounce for those employees.

      • …”Neoliberal government through reducing tariffs and importing cheap products decimated our workforce by thousands”…


        Keeping the answers short, – thank you for that. Good reply. But not only did they reduce tariffs – they abolished all them, unlike the USA,… so whats wrong with this picture?

      • I don’t recall the exact number, but the government subsidy of the local assembly of Mitsubishi cars by Todd Corp cost more than the cars if bought new from Japan.

        • I really get annoyed when people focus on one aspect and then give anecdotal evidence to back up their claims.

          Where people / family’s living in cars back in the 1970’s as they were under neo liberalism or was highlighted under the corrupt regime of the pony tail puller?

          Was our health and education systems as degraded during the 1960’s- 70’s as it has been under neo liberalism?

          Was the divide between the wealthy and the working poor ever as great as it was post 1984 barring the retrograde times of pre Michael Joseph Savage and John Maynard Keynes? Or as Chris Trotter mentions , – the application of such economic theory’s of Friedrich List ?

          Lets have at it.

          Defend yourself.

        • Having worked at Toyota in Thames in the eighties, I can assure you it was not just about cost. What the industry brought was teachers, doctors, lawyers, health professionals, business,sports men and women, employment for surrounding areas, Paeroa, Waihi, Ngatea, Whangamata. Millions of dollars spent through retail.
          However as you say, because of neoliberalism you could buy cheap from Japan with the clocks wound back. All of which , the impact on all industry meant it was killed off. All areas suffered, retail businesses closed, Thames itself is a shadow of it’s former self. And sadly the effect of the closure on one former work colleague resulted in her suicide.
          So, as I have mention on numerous occasions, those that focus solely on money, never see the big picture.

    • Andrew, you are entitled to your opinion but as someone in their 50s I can say my heart chills at the thought of unemployment being double digits.

      In the 80s and 90s there was a lot of rhetoric about how economic rationalism was the truth and would lead us to economic nirvana. The reality is that this was a miserable and depressing time for many Kiwis. It created poverty, social problems and social stratification never previously seen in this country, with many of these problems now intractable.

      Let’s not go there ever again.

      • Lets go one step further,… lets purge this disgusting neo liberal ideology first from our parliament and then from our shores forever. Who needs it?

        Overseas corporate’s and their shareholders?- who are they to us? Did we ever need them before 1984? Did they ever care a shit about our Democracy?

        Lest purge them as as well. Not only are they dead weight , they are leeches.

        Sooooo… hands up how many want a leech up their arse?


        lets have a head count.

        There’s a lot to be said about the ‘Aussie mongrel’… I think we need a fair dose of it now.


    • Well it sounds like you’ve done well under neoliberalism Andrew, but at least half the country is worse off – the lower half. The move to indirect taxation and the privatization of services like electricity has raised the cost of living considerably – which doesn’t matter if you’re on a high income of course. But when oldies apparently need supplementary payments to heat their homes in winter, our economic model plainly isn’t working.

      Another highlight of neoliberalism is what it’s done to universities. When I went to university back in the late 70s (cripes!), you had to work hard and learn the material if you wanted a good mark. But now our universities are “unicorps” required to maximize student enrollments (they need the cash!), and failing too many students results in drastic cuts to government funding. Teachers are rated according to their popularity with the students (yes, it’s ALL about ratings, like commercial radio and TV). Can you guess what’s happened to academic standards? And university managers live in fear of brand-damaging student denunciations of racist/sexist/islamophobic/transphobic micro-aggressions.

      Sure there’s some airbrushing of history when people recall the old days. Yes there was corruption (do you think there isn’t now?). Yes trade unions got too powerful. But most Kiwis were better off than they are now.

    • Well, young Andy, as a person who is old enough to have clear memories of the political landscape you lecture on, I can only suspect that there is one word you don’t have in your lexicon. “Timelines”, because you have utterly bolloxed up on that score. Practical every example you put forward is a prime example of the corruption, and insider deals that the great thief Holyoake and his eventual replacement Muldoon indulged in, and which the colonial press blamed on Labour governments, who were elected to fix the economic messes left behind by your heros. The cool stores full of sheep carcasses were a standing joke in the late 70s, into the early 80s in fact. And that is only one, of many instances of your inability to remember the time lines with both eyes open. If you’re not careful, you will become known as just another pseudo intellectual tory sycophant. try harder next time.

    • Its ok Andrew. I can see your point even if others here choose not too. I like Chris’s article and have a wary respect for Winston but he’s not gold in my book. He has done plenty to hamstring progress this Government has tried to make, the CGT debacle being an example. as for Government ownership and control of housing and industry well yes it provided jobs and housing, but from what I could see (and I was born1951) there was plenty of hardship. If you worked on the railway it was well known there were perks to be had, and inflated government depts that seemed to achieve very little were there for all to see. I lived in a well to do suburb of Wellington as a kid, and the not so well off that couldn’t afford shoes to put on their feet were visible enough, as was the Salvation Army, no different to now. People didn’t live in cars so much because you couldn’t buy or afford them. You had to have overseas funds to import a new vehicle and only the well off were able to get on a long waiting list to purchase one of those. There was no choice of consumer goods, you bought what was available. I remember the only school shoes you could buy was the Bata Bullets.Hardly a fashion statement. Today we have a vast range of products to choose from, and although that’s not necessary for a good quality of life I doubt whether the young of today would accept anything less regardless of their status. I suspect the political answer to our problems lies somewhere between right and left, as in my opinion it has to if imaginative business and good social welfare is to be achieved . Winston is vaguely in that space but a little too vague for my liking.

  6. God damn it Chris Trotter I enjoy (most of the time) the articles you write, especially this one whereby it just makes you think what if….. “the decent society”. What was that? For Peters it was a society that allowed a dirt-poor cow-cockey’s son from Northland to become a pin-striped lawyer in a double-breasted suit. It was a society that offered work to all who wanted it – and felt only disdain for those who didn’t. It was a society that knew better than to leave the rich in charge of an economy. A society smart enough to know that in such a small country only the state was big enough to guarantee both prosperity and fairness.
    How can you argue with that!
    Nothing really to do with what you wrote but got me thinking of my own personal situation whereby over the past 12 months I have had my vehicle serviced by my mechanic, engaged the services of an engineer and draftsman for various projects. The thing they all had in common was that they were not only good at there jobs but after talking with them informaly have found out they all learnt there trades via the old New Zealand Forest Service. As with a lot of folk of a certain age they learnt trades and skills via government departments and were taught well.

    • …’ The thing they all had in common was that they were not only good at there jobs but after talking with them informaly have found out they all learnt there trades via the old New Zealand Forest Service. As with a lot of folk of a certain age they learnt trades and skills via government departments and were taught well’…

      And that jolly well tells us the neo liberal ‘experiment’ was flawed to begin with…that there were ‘other agendas’ afoot.

      Big govt , and social responsibility is the way to go. Call it what you will, New Zealanders need to look after their own… not some rich fat cat overseas and their shareholders. We were not put on this earth to be born into servitude.

    • The good old days were never good old days really and never will be. And yet they will always be.

      15 years ago was 2005. That was like the day before yesterday to some. 15 years before I was in form 2 World War 2 ended. When we moved to the city the next year I delivered groceries to older people. They kept the brown paper certain items used to be wrapped in and kept the brown paper bags and the pieces of string. How long is a piece of string? How long is it until you might need it for something important when there’s another war? The Cold War was a reality and the string might come in handy.

      The Heralds I delivered in the morning were the daily dose of news along with listening to broadcast radio news. No multi device, moving pictures, talkback, opinion, comment, endless interviews, media people trying to come up wth angles trying to create angles 10,080 minutes a week. And all the immediate access to virtually every corner of the world and their moving pictures, talkback, opinion, comment, endless interviews, media people trying to come up with angles, trying to create angles.

      We lived in a country area like Peters (though there was a township.) Did any kids not have a mother and a father they lived with? Were there any homes which didn’t have someone going out each day to earn the daily bread? The Ministry of Works, railways, Post and Telegraph and so on were there.

      All these years later when errant youths do something dumb in that district it’s likely they’ve never lived in a house where people have got out of bed in the morning and gone to work. Let alone gone to work for years. Maybe their parents had the same.

      Peters has spanned that. Whether the ‘decent society’ Mark Bowie refers to comes into the way he operates I don’t know. The naive lifestyle led us to dream as kids for ourselves and then for our own. The sad or proud legacy for Peters and all of us in the same age group is that we made New Zealand what it is today. Sometimes we did it by the politicians we picked, including Winston Peters.

      How did the Ruth Richardson Mother of all Budgets go? She had The Answer so we were led to believe. Are we bearing golden or rosy red fruit from that?

      45 years after another seminal event we’re still talking about the superannuation situation. Muldoon had The Answer. Didn’t he? How did that work out? We’ve never needed access to hundreds of billions invested in that have we?

      Roger Douglas had All The Answers too didn’t he? How did that go Roger? He’d probably say he only scratched the surface and if there’d been the courage to carry on and do the job properly our transport infrastructure, housing, health and education systems and social conditions would be the best in the world.

      While there is a unique bank of perspectives in everyone, Peters’ is ‘more differenter’ than a mass of his Parliamentary colleagues. Maybe it’s that about him and some of them that makes me sometimes say something about them that I’m sure Peters would never say (wink wink). Like to Simeon Brown and Chris Bishop: “Piss off you little twerp.”

      • Brilliant article by Laura O’Connell Rapira :


        … ” Thirty years of regressive government policy that has pushed more people into poverty, coupled with opportunistic politicians’ lazy beneficiary bashing, means that we tend to let those living at the margins take the blame for government’s failure to invest in public services and incomes again and again. It’s outrageous to me that people in government would rather spend millions of taxpayer dollars chasing down the $30 million we lose to so-called “welfare fraud” (I’d call it survival) than the (at least) $1.2 billion lost to wealthy tax dodgers each year”…


        The writings on the wall for all politicians who brown nose up to the tax dogers and evaders in this country. Its been going on for far too long.

        We didn’t vote you in and pay handsome salary’s just to look after some foreign bastards economic interests and well being, – and nor did we vote you in to look after the already filthy wealthy rich New Zealanders who pay you in large party donations to pass laws favouring just them and their bloody interests, either.

        Get off your arses.

  7. I’m not an NZ First voter, I cannot stand Shane Jones, but I like Winston.

    He has what it’s so overlooked all too often, life experience. He’s been there, done that and has seen what works and what doesn’t. Experience is not the be all end all, much like the open mindedness of youth is either.

    He’s right though, we need to look back at what worked and do it.

    Society run by the wealthy be it in the form of many of the National Party or from behind the scenes is not working. The US are always 20 years ahead of us and I for one do not like what I see coming for NZ.

    Time is right to change direction.

    • Xray Agreeing 100% with Chris Trotter, and pleased that you recognise the importance of Winston Peter’s life experience and time-acquired wisdom.

      I just had a socially-distanced chat in the supermarket queue, about the importance of the elder statesman.

      Chris Trotter and Winston Peters have had historic ongoing involvement in every strata of NZ society, well beyond the experience of some of the scaringly ignorant breed of child would-be politicians. And if they’re politicians, then they need to know our history, and how well we have previously functioned, but they don’t, and they grab at specific old grievance occurrences, over and over again, blithely unconcerned about the dynamics of a good society, and how better it can be.

      Chloe Swarbrick’s comment to VUW students, that experience doesn’t count, was shockingly ignorant, and proved the narrow circumscribed existence Swarbrick has led if this is what she thinks; it echoed the worst excesses of – often brilliant- Chairman Mao. I had already dumped the Greens after Davidson’s myopic antics at the Auckland Muslim vigil- an opportunity for a real politician to establish a constructive dialogue for the future, but for Davidson, another white-bashing opportunity.

      The Green’s tragedy may been in losing their two elder statesmen, in the post-Turei debacle – they took institutional wisdom and knowledge with them.

      As others note, the past was far from perfect, but it was not shackled by flawed neo-liberalism, and people like Peters who know different, and who know more, are sorely needed.

      • Very profound, – I feel that it is long past the date when both Chris Trotter and Winston Peters should be recognized for services rendered, yet on two completely different planes, but both in services towards being the bulwarks and protectors of our democracy.

        When the corrupt pony tail puller/ tax haven engineer reprimanded by the IMF itself whose name will not be mentioned was honored by the far right elite with the title of ‘SIR’ , – and then contrasted with these other sterling individuals such as Peters and Trotter who were passed over…it tells me that something stinks quite foul in Denmark… and New Zealand.

      • Well you outflank me with comments about Chloe Swarbrick, but I still find myself supporting her. And despite my lack of support for cannabis use in NZ, I find myself convinced by her rational, common sense and statistical approach.

        HOWEVER !!!

        Holland has been there decades ago.

        WHY , … is NZ still carping on about the USA, Canada and Australia?, – these are the relative newbies on the scene,…why are we following these NARB’S instead of the Veterans?

        Why is that ?

        Why ?

        Regards our most senior and experienced politician , Sir Winston Peters ( and I take the liberty as it is well long, long overdue) , indeed he has led a long and exhausting battle against the cancer we know as neo liberalism. It is time he was recognized for his long 35 year plus campaign.

        No other NZ politician has campaigned for so long , nor compromised with such an odious political foe as the neo liberal paradigm to secure the gains for the most vulnerable , ie: our nations elderly.

        His longstanding political career and his equally as long standing service to the people of NZ demands recognition.

        He amply deserves a knighthood.

        Far too many lesser others before him were bequeathed their ‘knighthoods’ by mere flaky trivialities and media driven emotive drivel were given knighthoods, – and who achieved virtually nothing for the general public of the people of New Zealand.

        And I am thinking in particular of one pony tail pulling, tax haven creating, former Forex investing ‘NON’ PM who should have been tarred and feathered at the castle walls and who yet managed to con this country for a full NINE YEARS.

        There is no comparison between the two.

        Sir Winston Peters is a true knight, – the other?,- is an impostor.

        • I can’t comment on knighthoods etc because it’s all a bit nonsensical to me, but the extent that the Nats went to to try and smear Winston Peters over his WINZ NZ Super stuff-up, seemingly trying to shop him to the media on zero grounds, for an insignificant amount of money, suggests that the dirty tricks coven were very keen to get him out of the way, which, in itself, is an excellent reason for valuing him, and hanging onto him.

          Chloe Swarbrick does dress better than those aesthetically ghastly Nat women who have no excuse for looking like advertisements for 3 @ $1 gaudy tops from some back street Asian market designed more for madams in Nth African brothels.

          • …” Chloe Swarbrick does dress better than those aesthetically ghastly Nat women who have no excuse for looking like advertisements for 3 @ $1 gaudy tops from some back street Asian market designed more for madams in Nth African brothels”…


            Excellent. I say we support Chloe, because her heart is good and she is a an able, young, up and coming national leader. We need more like her.

          • And if Richie can be promoted toward a knighthood by the ponytail pulling chief-ton, then I’m sure as hell sure Winston for services to politics deserves a knighthood, particularly as Sir Ponytail puller got one for Jack Shit.

            • Indeed, and well said.

              It should no longer be the Right Honorable Winston Peters , … but the Right Honorable SIR Winston Peters.

              Whether he wants it or not.

              And while were at it, lets have a look at the indomitable Chris Trotter,… another one who eschews so called capitalist titles… it should be conferred upon him whether he likes it or not as a sign of appreciation by the NZ public.

      • +1 Snow White

        “Chloe Swarbrick’s comment to VUW students, that experience doesn’t count, was shockingly ignorant, and proved the narrow circumscribed existence Swarbrick has led if this is what she thinks; it echoed the worst excesses of – often brilliant- Chairman Mao. I had already dumped the Greens after Davidson’s myopic antics at the Auckland Muslim vigil- an opportunity for a real politician to establish a constructive dialogue for the future, but for Davidson, another white-bashing opportunity.

        The Green’s tragedy may been in losing their two elder statesmen, in the post-Turei debacle – they took institutional wisdom and knowledge with them.”

        The only thing I can add, is that that generation (Swarbrick’s) are actually brainwashed by the modern neoliberal education system operating in NZ that actually believes ‘teachers are facilitators, and actually don’t need to have any expert knowledge’ therefore imparting that anti intellectual and anti history wisdom (sarcasm) on their pupils like Swarbrick who don’t know any other way.

        She probably needs Cannabis reform to get by, because there is such a lack of depth in modern NZ life so she needs to get out of it, which is climate here deliberately created by neoliberalism, so I guess that is all she can cling to.

        As for Marama – ex Les Mills qualified aerobics instructor… father was a famous actor in NZ… she clearly has A LOT of identity issues too, but it’s a pity that she didn’t go into therapy rather than inflicting her personal demons on the nation and diverting the Green movement in NZ into a personal crusade against men, pakeha, landlords…. Marama, there are less and less private landlords left now, tenants sleep easy while they live in a one room hotel instead for 300% more money!

        As for poor Shaw, bought up by Lesbians, he seems to be going with letting the women in his party take the leadership and do what ever they want with it, while years of experience of being a boy in a lesbian household means he’s an expert at apologising.

        • I do think however, thqt as with all politicians, theydo say things that get taken out of context, they make gaffs, and so on.

          It would be shame to write off emerging good political figures simply because of a few misplaced comments, – especially in their youth / young adulthood. That to me is the height of legalistic dismissal.

          Both Chloe and Marama have made some wrong choices, but their hearts are true. These two young women of potential should not be written off so casually. I would challenge any of us to do better if we were as young and before the public eye having to be part of the heady process of legislative decision making that will affect their fellow New Zealanders lives.

          And this goes across the board whether they are National, Act , Labour , Green or NZ First. People make mistakes.

          To me , it is an issue of whether their heart is in the right place. I think that is the guiding principle if they mean well towards their fellow humans. Of all stripes and colour’s and beliefs.

          Policy is only a reflection of what is in the heart of an individual or collective body… bad policy more often times comes from a bad heart. Good policy, such as the govt of Michael Joseph Savage, came from the collective politically good heart of his govt to enact good policy’s.

          It is a simple concept.

          Essentially anything that is destructive, oppressive , that disadvantages the less than well off,… is the product of a bad heart.

        • savenz – Don’t hold Shaw’s lesbian mums against him – it makes huge and unfair assumptions. They may have been wonderful mothers.

          Marama Davidson seems to see herself as a travelled person for getting from Invercargill, to Wellington, then Auckland. Wow. Christchurch inbetween. Another wow.

          I am weary of doing such things, but I contemplated laying a complaint about Davidson to the Human Rights Commission after seeing the news reports of the Auckland Muslim Vigil. Then I read that Davidson used to work for the Human Rights Commission, and I surmised that that’s where she might have learned that racism is a one way street. Previously she worked for the Owen Glenn inquiry into domestic violence, which as far as I know did nothing for
          abused persons. But I am sure they were paid reasonable sums of money for having mind numbing conversations, believing they were making a difference.

          Of course, she may have been both organisations’ tea lady – and that’s ok –
          but her sweeping statements about Pakeha, and silliness about white men, suggests that she lives in a narrow racial conclave too. (Being the tea lady is a great way to learn all sorts of things – more than imbibers may realise.)

          I have known enough good self-less people working unacknowledged, in the community, to be repelled by little Green sprouts airily dismissing whole swathes of society about which they know nothing and would struggle to even understand, because they are ignorami without the intellectual capacity to relate to the reference points involved. Half them have never done real work.

          In recent Guardian article about Davidson – which I couldn’t be bothered reading properly – she refers to politicians living in a bubble; cloud nine may be more applicable to some.

          • I certainly don’t hold Shaw’s lesbian mums against him – in fact quite the opposite. It explains a lot. I think maybe that is why he kinda lets some crazy stuff slide happening there… cunts, delete yourself bro, the exodus of men from the Green Party ….. He stood beside Metira – he’s more likeable in my view that most of the others and thus a target to pretend he’s unpopular. Sadly though, like most of the current Greens, not really a die hard environmentalist and that is the big problem. Saying that, I think hope Greens come back, a weak Green Party is better than zero Green Party. Labour might be popular but they are a policy mess and have zero Green credentials.

          • ARRRCH! You’re being a little harsh on Marama, she went , along with Mike Trent and protested, something most of us didn’t do …I think her real motivations are geopolitical, and the plight of indigenous peoples,… and sometimes, that passion slips over into ways we find difficult to accept. Give her time, she is still young. And it strikes me, that NZ media and a large sector of our society have always denigrated the likes of Syd Jackson and others.

            It is time that is needed. Lets not go writing our young firebrands off without at least giving them time to develop and mature…

            We lost a great crusader for the working poor and the unemployed when the media and National crucified Metiria Turei.

            The media and National.

            Remember that.

  8. Absolutely brilliant article ,Chris Trotter.

    As I have just woken up to the world @ 10.58am, I am still shaking the cobwebs out and while reaching for that apple cider instead of a morning coffee, you will understand if I keep this brief.

    Because whether you wished to or not, ether directly or indirectly , you have vindicated the Right Hon Winston Peters and all he has battled so long and hard for. You have vindicated NZ pre 1984. You have vindicated Michael Joseph Savage and his social and economic successors, both National and Labour,.. at least for the working man and women in this country.

    And yet NZ spawned many, many millionaires under that system too, supported as they were in their infancy through the many subsidy’s and benefits the state offered initially. They often received a leg up as the govt valued their economic input and the local employment they provided, and Farmers were subsidized to ease them through the hard times.

    You have shown how it is to be done. And by extension , – contrasted the shabby, substandard and utterly anti traditional NZ egalitarian values the economic ideology we live under today that is called neo liberalism. The system that strips all , impoverishes the working people, and takes all profits out of the country leaving us with a scant penny to put towards our decaying infrastructure while foreign shareholders laugh at our naivety.

    It was a real joy to wake up to this article, Chris,…and I absolutely appreciate it. It is so good to see that just for once, – just once! ,- that what Winston Peters actually stands for in essence, what underpins the essential political philosophy ,- once all the other human failings which are natural to any politician are stripped away ,- is the very foundational answer to the problems we seek today.

  9. Yes Chris the watershed election of big Norm in 1972 must have been a pivotal moment in times very different from today.

    The events of those days i only know about from what i have read as i was only three years old.

    Muldoon loomed large over the country for most of the time i was growing up and i can still remember the hostility and hero worship he encouraged as his dictatorial style became ever more entrenched.

    There was poverty but not the cruel subsistence many experience now and the all powerful union movement fought a running battle with Muldoon each never wanting too be seen too be backing down.

    i remember the strikes at the wharf , Marsden point which came close too being a national emergency with fuel supplies being threatened and numerous other disputes that paralysed essential services like the Cook straight ferries and always during the school holidays.

    There was until the late 1980s a job for just about everyone with union protection too safeguard your rights , pay and conditions and it was until 1983 compulsory too join.

    There were the family conflicts between my mums parents who voted for Muldoon and my mum who despised him and frequently lit the fire by always calling him a ” one man band ” or a dictatorial bastard.

    1981 and the tour caused huge upset with my father’s desire too take me too the Eden park final and my mother accusing him of loosing his mind by even considering taking a child into a violent dangerous situation.

    He just couldn’t see what the all the fuss was about.

    But the tour was excuse the pun a ” gamechanger ”

    I remember my country pre 1984 and always describe too my children as the ” old New Zealand ” where we were all looked after collectively by the government and the state.

    Then the infamous ” schnapps election ” on July 14th was on as Marilyn Waring said too use a modern term ” GOTCHA ”

    I saw the state Muldoon was in not realising he was inebriated until my father remarked he is pissed as a fiddlers cat !!

    On a wet cold Saturday night the excitement was building as after a promising start for Muldoon the Labour landslide was under way.

    I said early on watching the coverage that it looked like Muldoon was winning but as my mother commented just keep watching those city results in a while , the old bastard has had it.

    I had never known anything other than the third National government where the PM was also the minister of finance i was just excited at the prospect of a change.

    We got change alright as i was too witness the rogernomics revolution , the destruction of ANZUS and becoming nuclear free and off course the devaluation crisis as Muldoon refused to acquiesce too Langes demands too devalue as we were threatened with the IMF becoming involved if we didn’t act and i remember how alarmed everyone was at the situation we were all faced with.

    The first of many crises that were too prove invaluable too the neoliberal medicine we were told we had no choice but too take.

    Finally Winston uses the system he says he hates and threatens too change too his own advantage depending which way the wind is blowing.

    He may be the elder statesman of parliament first elected in 1978 but when he has had the power he has done nothing worthwhile with it too make the change away from the market economy he says is needed.

    That said he has become an effective break as he sees it too left or right extremist ideology that does not fit with his nationalist conservative base.

    Yes Chris he will be back sitting in the backseat telling the driver which direction too go in.

  10. I couldn’t agree with you more! We’re doomed! Shackled to the Neoliberal Train that, somewhere up ahead is bound to find a piece of track that has been neglected since Fay & Richwhite flipped it for a billion dollars after acquiring it for a buck.

    A Train Wreck is a com’n!

  11. It might be age but more likely its because he’s smart and astute. I’m not a fan but he is aware of how the world works, far more so then most others I can think of. Many of whom in my view seem out of touch with the world most of us inhabit.

  12. If I may , …a shout out to my son Finn and his cousin George managing the farm down in the Waikato, they’ll know what this is all about,… and so might the readers in essence. Its to do with having a dose of ‘Aussie mongrel’ and the ability to be straight up without all the waffle when it comes speaking to power and looking after our own in this country. A little bit of rough ‘down on the farm’ humour.

    The Kid (He Swears A Little Bit)

    Where would we be without the workers of this country , I ask all of you?

  13. Peter’s won’t be any kind of king maker if Labour get over 50% of the vote….seemingly a reasonable expectation.

      • Exactly Clean Green. At the first hints of being able to govern alone whispers from deep below ague Jacinda to cut NZFirst and The Greens lose but she must resist these calls to weaken the coalition government before it has a chance to evolve.

        • If this COL continues to keep on keeping on, it will set a precedent and a template by which all other future COL’s will be measured by. It will revitalize NZ politics by enabling and supporting an evolving true Left movement , which is essential in any mature democracy.

          After 35 years of the neo liberal hegemony, we may just find ourselves eventually , – overcoming its destructive globalistic agenda ,- with a rising challenge against the most negative aspects of that ideology , – and done by popular appeal.

          And coupled with the system we voted for, MMP, could create the unashamed political and economic pride we have been seeking.

          In essence?,… consideration for , and preeminence of contemplating what is best firstly and foremost for THIS country and its PEOPLES before any other FOREIGN CONCERNS.

          And it is at that juncture that we formulate a mature national identity again along with strong foreign policy’s that favour OUR people, – not those wealthy foreigners who see us now as a naive soft touch ripe for exploitation.

  14. winston peters is full of crafty shit. What happened to his impending SFO investigation btw? Did I miss something? What was he talking to don brash about in that photograph at that cafe then?
    His job, during the reign of the neoliberals and of their feasting at our expense was to derail public investigation by using logical fallacies and to deceive by truism laden lies via a beaten down MSM quivering in fear.
    Are any of you too young to remember the wine box inquiries? Cook Islands? Anybody…? Yes? No?
    If he really wanted to upend neoliberalism he could have done so years ago, but he didn’t.
    On the subject of pre and post neoliberal days and of how few remember ‘those days’ because they were too young etc…?
    That’s also bullshit.
    I know many younger people who know more about neoliberalism as such than many who lived through its grisly implementation. I wasn’t young enough to remember WW2 but I do know what the world was like prior to WW2, of what went on during that little skirmish and of what changed as a consequence of that.
    One of the unfortunate things about life is that there are those who think they’re wise simply because they’re old.
    The cult-like following which peters has here is worrying if I must be clear and present.
    Is it time then, for this interesting fellow?
    Alan Watts.
    “A prolific author and speaker, Alan Wilson Watts is credited with the interpretation and introduction of Eastern philosophy to the Western audience.”
    And this via
    This is a bit simplistic but it’s fun.
    Animated short with the words of Alan Watts: UNTIL THERE WAS NOTHING [by Paul Trillo]

    My advice to young people would be to line up and go with elon musk and jeff bezos and head to the moon before the next iteration of a ‘wet market’ virus is let loose.
    I saw NASA’s little piece of propaganda at MOTAT once. [It] reminded me of an American soap opera that’d mated with a lost island survivalist show complete with loony blather and a dreamy, mind warp narrative and all soaked in gooey muzak.
    Apparently, according to NASA, going into outer space is better than no holds barred sex with four Russian ballerinas while everyone’s high as fuck on Indonesian E.
    Be afraid. Be very afraid.
    Nasa picks Bezos’s Blue Origin and Musk’s SpaceX to build new lunar landers
    Here’s my prediction…
    When they and their hand picked cohorts are up/out there, all flouncy and frilly in their little moon motels? Each room will have a photograph of jeffrey epstien on the wall. That, is when a virus will be released that’ll make coved-19 look like a summer sniffle.
    In my opinion anyway.
    Look on the bright side. According to many, I’ll be completely wrong about wee winnie peters. Son of a dirt poor cow cocky who done did gone full lawyer after a fancy edumacation and what not so any thoughts on covid-19 are bound to be wacky-wrong, right?
    Lets wait and see…? If my only regret in life is not pushing gerry brownlee headfirst down that escalator at Ch Ch A/P then I’m doing alright so far and I’m old too, so my memory’s not as … what’s the words I’m looking for?

    • Nah, fuck the aliens, Jupiter and Mars and fuck G.Brownlee. Your better off here and sucking it up.That’s where you’re needed. And what about that book, C.B?

    • That word you are looking for…
      “We seldom realize, for example that our most private thoughts and emotions are not actually our own. For we think in terms of languages and images which we did not invent, but which were given to us by our society.”
      Disproves this. We think in concepts and then try to find the words to describe them , The thought comes first and the words later. … sometimes.
      D J S

  15. My 5c worth; some young children are interested in politics. Sometimes we went to Parliament at night to hear debates and go to the piecart afterwards for peas pie and spud. When I was 9 we went down to Petone to see the Queen. We stood by Jackson Street and watched the royal cavalcade pass. I don’t remember the queen but I do remember after she’d passed a tremendous noise coming towards us. it turned out to be a crescendo of boos for a stout man with a red face who smiled at us. It was Sid Holland our PM. He smiled because he knew he was in Labour territory and we didn’t matter becus he was on top, returned to rule with a big majority. I know now his victory was a consequence of the waterfront dispute when the Natz controlled coverage in MSM so the wharfies could not tell their side of the story. I knew about the dispute because relatives from the South Island squeezed into our little state house when their trip to Aussie was delayed. I was aware that my father supported the wharfies. He was active in the PSA. He was a public servant when that meant serving the public.

    Was it a golden political past we should hark back to? Not yet neo-liberal, but a welfare state that was controlled by the dark forces of capitalism when needed. I read in the paper in the 1960s that a Mr Plimmer had given a speech where he denigrated Maori. Only appeared in one edition of The Dom. He was said to be the uncrowned king of NZ and he didn’t like publicity. So the sinister stuff Nicky Hager writes about, existed when I was young.

  16. Ah, joy! I had thought my New Zealand was dead and gone, but here it is, in Mr. Trotter’s accolade and the many posts on all sides. Bravo team!

    I’m an oldie like Mr. Peters, (well, older!) and a native kiwi but have been long away raising my family in the dark home of neoliberalism, as fate decreed for me. From afar I watched in dismay as what was happening there came to these shores and gobbled up the land of my childhood.

    It is wonderful to read these attributes – I’m a distant relative of the man in question though he wouldn’t know me from Eve. Dear people! You are the stuff of the land, and your memories are golden to me. Mine are equally dear, and thanks to this blog for stirring them. I agree with those who say i the coalition there is strength – it must continue!

    Thank you, Mr. Peters, for your service to the nation, and thank you, fellow kiwis – I am so proud of you. Stay strong!

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