Dr Liz Gordon: Big mistake, David Seymour


There was a time, not so very long ago, that David Seymour’s Māori-bashing snipe at the issue of a so-called ‘priority code’ would have guaranteed him an upswing of support.  But those days are over.  It is a long time now since Don Brash received a surge in support for his Orewa speech (and then lost it again through dirty politics, you will recall).

A number of things have changed.  The first and probably most important is that Stuff news, and all its newspapers, turned against its past as an echo chamber for racism against Māori.  This was a very public process (and a very interesting one, too) and has led to a big change in the reporting of Māori ‘issues’, as they used to be called.

Prior to the change, the report might have outlined Seymour’s views and those of a few other Māori-bashers, then in a tiny paragraph at the end have outlined the justification for having a code.

This time, the news has been turned on its head, and has sought to condemn the Act leader for his actions in circulating the code.

Front and centre has been John Tamihere’s explanation that most of the vaccines delivered by the Waipareira Trust have gone to pakeha, and the goal has simply been to increase Māori vaccination rates.

 JT then personalised it, and pointed out that the only recent death from Covid had been “a nana from our Marae”, which gave added impetus to the Trust’s drive to vaccinate Māori.

Thus a story about unearned privilege was revealed as a tale of a major drive to save Māori lives in Tamaki Makaurau. And Seymour looks like a fool.

This is not the first time he has dipped his toe into Brash-land. He wants Māori seats abolished in Parliament and is opposed to Māori wards on local Councils, calling them ‘apartheid’.  Such inflammatory language, is, I think, the sign of a true racist.

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I understand that he has recently discovered his own Māori ancestry. This does not mean that he understands what Ranginui Walker called “ka whawhai tonu matou” (the struggle without end). He seems to have no understanding at all of the structural oppression of Māori people which has left them economically and socially disadvantaged, when once they were promised that colonisation would not equal oppression.

I don’t need to tell him he’s made a mistake. The media reporting of his comments and actions makes that so clear.  The time of overtly racist white blokes running the country is now past (aren’t the views and attitudes of Muldoon and the police shown in The Panthers just riveting?).

In the immortal words of Bob Dylan, “the times they are a-changing”.  While the incoherence of the National Party has seen a big rise in Act’s support, that support is both conditional on performance and inherently fragile. It will not survive a branding as the racist party of the right.


Dr Liz Gordon is a researcher and a barrister, with interests in destroying neo-liberalism in all its forms and moving towards a socially just society. She usually blogs on justice, social welfare and education topics.


  1. Seymour is simply trying to solidify support from the redneck quarter. He knows there is a constuency to be grabbed

    The deserters from National will be attracted by strident rhetoric and racists want somewhere to hang their hats.

    Seymour’s approach will be nuanced enough for him to be able to mount a defence against charges of racism sufficient for his Epsom lovies and others with the semblance of a brain to stick with him.

    Last year Queenstown was the venue for him to trip the light fantastic around racism. He knows there is a market and he will be in like a pig in shit.

    • Hmm, Hongi Ika, the guy has a degree in engineering from Auckland University, his mother is Nga Puhi. Suddenly, without offering one scrap of evidence, some are saying that he only just discovered his Maori blood, but he’s not one who runs around wailing, “ Poor me “ – and many mainstream people agree with some of his views eg the obsolete Maori seats in Parliament. He’s one of the most articulate people in Parliament.

      • As someone from supposedly Nga Pui, Seymour doesn’t exactly exude Maori culture, in fact it’s the opposite. And why would he say poor me given his status. Remember Applewood he is only there via being gifted a constituency. That makes him privileged and certainly was given a helping hand as say what Tamahere is trying to do in supporting Maori with the vaccine.
        Not all those with a degree are smart.

          • From Newsroom 24 December 2020…

            “Elected to Parliament in 2014 after National essentially gifted him the seat of Epsom, Seymour, 38, now looks like he is entrenched as the electorate’s MP much in the same way that Peter Dunne had a lock on Ohariu-Belmont.”

            Kia Kaha Applewood.

        • True, Bert. As a teacher of language I often wondered why he was so poor at expressing himself in good, clear English. I remember him trying to say (about 1st lockdown?) that the medicine was worse than the disease, but he actually burbled, “The medicine is worse than the cure.” Utter nonsense of course – the medicine is supposed to be the cure. Yet he repeated it several times even after he had had time to think, and I think it was well over a day later before he finally admitted he had confused things. Harvard University material??

        • I love the stereotypical racism here! LOL

          “doesn’t exactly exude Maori culture”

          and what is that exactly? By your standards, because I’m born English and must take up Morris Dancing.

          Please try to stop putting people in pigeon holes

          • He knows his roots he had no need to belabour the point nor any need to overcompensate ..He came up in politics as “…that bloody upstart Maori”. Seymor just joining the brownwash whitey club,inc lol

      • There is a huge difference between knowledge and wisdom. A Degree is only a measure of knowledge, a Doctorate may start to indicate some wisdom.
        In this case Seymour has demonstrated a complete lack of wisdom, political nous, and plain ordinary common sense.
        He could just have questioned the use of the priority code, but by sabotaging a legitimate health initiative he showed his political ambitions have no bounds.

      • Ken Martin – if that was a reply to Jack, it is out of this world! The system here does not make it clear who you are actually replying to, unfortunately.

        • In Vino. No, my reply was not to Jack, but Mr Kelly. I thought I was doing this, but not so. Thank you for your comment. By and large, there is a lot of anonymous opinion here which cannot be substantiated. Yes, this my opinion, but traverse the posts. They speak for themselves. some insufferably rude and profane. If posters would discipline themselves, there would be far fewer comments.

  2. david seymour… a compelling argument for compulsory sterilisation.
    Look closely and you can see roger douglas’s finger prints all over him?
    Little ol’ roger douglas aye? He, or rather it, sent AO/NZ into reverse, spinning us backwards for generations but he, or again,it, did build a few useless billionaires enjoying trickle-up economics at the expense of the homeless and those living in poverty in a rich country which, it’s said, ad nauseam, can feed 40 million people.
    The little prick shouldn’t so much be engaging in debate as running while screaming!
    Can I ask? Serious question? Where’s our balls? Any one seen our balls?

    • Winston betrayed too many people, who then moved their support to ACT. I don’t think they’ll forget that anytime soon & they won’t get fooled by the likes of Ron Mark & Co again.

  3. Well said Dr Liz.
    Even ignoring the racist overtones in Seymour’s action there is the fact that he distributed correspondence not addressed to him or those he sent it to; his political aspirations obviously know no bounds.

  4. You cite as the “first and probably most important is that Stuff news, and all its newspapers, turned against its past as an echo chamber for racism against Māori” as a key reason to why Seymour’s comments will have failed to achieve anything – how do you square that with the well know collapse in readership rates for Stuff?


    The collapse in readerships rates Stuff has experienced plus the need for massive Government support to keep Stuff alive would suggest that people are voting with their wallets and turning away from their revised message.

    Maybe their is interest in what he has to say

    • Yeti – Stuff went all dumbo – they are the tipsyfied meanderings of the young and the meaningless trying to look sober and serious creeping home at dawn thinking that they’ve hoodwinked mummy and daddy, and failing.

      Remember those black and white print newspapers without the bigger and bigger coloured pictures of boring people talking about their lives and the preachy preachy Prince Harryisms ? Could fill a whole wet Sunday.

    • I must say, Yeti, that your cautionary comments in relation to Stuff (which are equally applicable to other news media outlets) are well made. Dr Gordon is mistaking the visible disapproval of journalists and cartoonists for disapproval per se.

      Though she probably does not encounter too many of them in her immediate social circle, there are numerous New Zealanders who will privately express their whole-hearted approval of David Seymour’s political gesture. How far this approval spreads through the electorate over the coming months and years will depend on how many people feel personally disadvantaged by Government policies intended to create “equity” between Maori and Non-Maori – or fear that they will be next.

      Nothing is more vicious than a privileged majority which fears the imminent loss of its privilege. But, alas, “equity” cannot be achieved by any other means.

      • I’m puzzled by this sentence Chris:

        “Nothing is more vicious than a privileged majority which fears the imminent loss of its privilege.”

        Quite a claim. Who exactly are this “privileged majority”?

          • Yes I would agree that home owners are privileged – though I’m not sure if we’re a now a majority (?). But what’s the relevance to the vaccination squabble?

        • PPII: “Who exactly are this “privileged majority”?”

          There’s no such thing in this godforsaken little outpost. It’s just another canard intended to drive division and resentment in the population.

          • D’Esterre: I think that was Trotter trying to reassure us that he’s still a lefty. But there’s got to be a better way of doing it than parroting dogma about privilege.

            • The unemployed professors of humanities would have no idea what is a positive terms of trade, creating wealth, and redistributed resources.

            • PP II: “But there’s got to be a better way of doing it than parroting dogma about privilege.”

              I completely agree. Especially given that the dogma drives resentment. And there’s a real risk of that resentment driving violence.

      • Hello, Mr Trotter

        “ there are numerous New Zealanders who will privately express their whole-hearted approval of David Seymour’s political gesture”. I have some cautious agreement. What really concerns me is the present government’s sly easing the way for some aspects of He Puapua. Although the Government says He Puapua is not policy, several decisions since the 2020 election have lined up with the recommendations of the report – including the introduction of a Māori Health Authority and the move to get rid of the ability for local councils to abolish Māori wards by way of referendum. The Three Waters proposal is a worry. What is to stop a future government selling water rights etc to the private sector? Māori wards were not in the manifesto, but it is disappointing that as an issue it doesn’t seem to have roused much excitement among voters. Cynically sly and unworthy of Labour. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

      • I think the point I was making – reasonably clearly, I thought, although perhaps not, is that racist dog-whistles may tend now to be called out by the mainstream media when before they were merely echoed. I am not even sure that equity is the goal of this campaign. Isn’t it just to get as many vulnerable people, however defined, vaccinated as quickly as possible? Thanks for your comments on my social circles. They are many and diverse.

  5. Yes his petticoat of dirty politics has been exposed by this action. Bridges is no better either, check out how he tried to get a homeless man turfed out of a beach cave he made into his shelter by writing a letter to the council on behalf of the millionaires across the road. Good news is, the council supported the homeless man! He can stay in his cave. Viva Tauranga city council.

    • I did not see the outcome of the man in the cave, fantastic news Lone Comet. Can we get a picture for Michael Woodhouse and show him what a real homeless man looks like

      • Hey Bert just type in your search engine about a homeless man living in a cave in Tauranga and you will find lots of stories and images. I just did and the story has made it to overseas news. Mostly disgust at the millionaires. Some want to criticize Tauranga city council, but Awhi has been there 18months and they say they can’t move him on as he is homeless. And he doesn’t want to move to a shelter as he has made a great stable base for himself on the beach. Bridges is a fuckwit and backed the wrong horse here.

  6. ” He seems to have no understanding at all of the structural oppression of Māori people which has left them economically and socially disadvantaged”

    Nor does he have any understanding of the structural oppression of the extreme neo liberal polices he advocates on Maori and Pakeha which has left them economically and socially disadvantaged !

  7. Would , or do a majority of us (as New Zealanders) resent the idea of maori being able to roll up and get the vax. I don’t. And that is not being facetious because I don’t happen to want it anyway. I don’t see why it needed to be kept secret.
    Does anyone here resent maori having this access ? The only negative I see in it is to the extent that it acknowledges some disadvantages that it might not be pc to acknowledge. Seymour’s crime was whistle blowing, like Julian Assange’s or Eric Snowdon’s.
    D J S

    • From David Seymour himself…

      “The code was not private information and it had already been widely shared on social media.”

      So this was not whistle blowing, as it was widely shared, this was political, grandstanding, posturing and about ones own dislike of an initiative to support Maori.
      As many in mainstream media, commentators have said Seymour made a mistake, it was an amateurs mistake. His crime was that of an opportunist, a thief if you will.

    • Assange and Snowdon did it for the good of the people, sadly David Seymour did it for his own political gain. This man sits in parliament in a gifted seat paid by the taxpayer and considers himself a saint amongst the wealthy when really (if the truth is out there )he is a very wealthy beneficiary .

      • I don’t compare Seymour to those two Gillian ; just that it is the same act of publicising something the government would rather keep quiet about, though as Bert points out it wasn’t much of a secret anyway,though the social media traffic was probably mostly among those who were targeted rather than any that might not approve.
        I quite agree with the comparison you make except I don’t think he is specially wealthy is he?

        • Who would really know. He did hide a house and his tax payer salary is more than most ? All I know is no matter what your politics this was disgraceful especially at a time like this when every vaccination counts and everybody who wants one can get one , so its not as if people are getting something that nobody else is entitled to. This initiative was an encouragement for extremely hesitant people no matter what the reasons were.

  8. Gillian Evans: “…everybody who wants one can get one…”

    That isn’t so. We’re in group 3: according to the government, we were a priority group, vaccinations to begin in May.

    But that didn’t happen. In our area, the DHBs prioritised Maori and Pacific groups: the rest of us had to wait. And wait. And wait….

    We had only just had our first shot when the delta variant descended on NZ and we got locked down.

    I doubt that even now, it’s freely available to all-comers. From the beginning, the rollout has been a botch-up.

    • Your comment makes a mockery of TheKrauts post…

      ” Yes the vaccine rollout could have been much better handled IMHO. By making it mandatory, simple as that. Even so, there is still NO EXCUSE for ANYONE…ANYONE missing out. The only people responsible for anyone missing out are those people themselves. “

      • Bert: enough with the my-government-right-or-wrong stuff. It’s tiresome.

        The opportunity to be vaccinated simply hasn’t been available to all-comers, certainly in this area, and from what I’ve heard, elsewhere in NZ as well. TheKraut’s comments notwithstanding, it has only just become available to the young people in this family. And – despite being in group 3 – we ourselves were only just a jump ahead of them.

        In this area, there’s a considerable wait for appointments for those newly eligible. I know this because that’s been the experience of our young relatives. I’d take bets that Auckland is worse.

        • Steady on D’Esterre. Simply pointing out two completely opposite viewpoints of which you both can’t be right?
          TheKraut says NO EXCUSE .

          Adding, nothing to do with my government right or wrong stuff.

          • Bert, were it not for my-government-right-or-wrong, you’d not have contrasted my comment with that of TheKraut. Be honest now.

            • Sorry D’Esterre it has nothing to do with right or left government, although you clearly know my leaning. I’m genuinely interested D’Esterre which one it is based on TheKrauts statement that…”NO EXCUSE for ANYONE…ANYONE missing out” yet you give valid reasons as to why you had to wait…”In our area, the DHBs prioritised Maori and Pacific groups: the rest of us had to wait. And wait. And wait….”

              I was vaccinated in June alongside my wife. My children have just had their first jab. My 90 yr old father and 84 year old mother have had theirs as per the stated timetable.
              All vaccinations have gone to schedule as planned.

              You stated “From the beginning, the rollout has been a botch-up.”
              It may have been best if you had said a botch up for you because for many, it has been straight forward, as it had been with my family.

        • here in picton people were able to roll up for vaccination no booking or booked then served within 24 hours. Not down to Gov vacc rates but down to well-organized functional DHB. some dhb’s are basketcases. One unified nhs should make a difference eventually to even outcomes across country.

  9. “This time, the news has been turned on its head, and has sought to condemn the Act leader for his actions in circulating the code.” Interesting. I always understood the “media” had only a role to provide the information, never to issue opinion. So it seems (and is verified by the utterly woke NZ Herald), that reporting (we used to have that in the old days, before journalism became fashionable) is now the domain of 20-something journalism under-graduates, with zero experience of life and its complexities, writing “opinion pieces” and offering their wisdom to the world. Ye Gods! What next? A female unwed mother (my apologies for assuming gender) , with a dodgy degree in “Communication” as a Prime Minister, in the midst of a global pandemic, stating (as did Jesus Christ) “I am the only source of truth”? Nah, couldn’t happen. This world needs fewer “journalists”, climate scientists, epidemiologists, diversity experts… in fact anything that is promoted as an expert. And we need more average people with common sense. Common sense will save the world, experts will destroy it. And journalists will offer their opinion on the burning wreck.

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