Labour’s Eyes Wide Shut To “Unruly Tenants”.


HOW LONG before Labour’s senior ministers realise how much damage Kāinga Ora is doing to their Government? Because it is difficult to overstate just how bad the optics of the Crown entity’s “unruly tenants” have become. As story after shocking story is picked up by the news media, public disbelief and disgust is growing exponentially. What’s preventing Labour from cauterising this self-inflicted political wound?

The answer would seem to involve the peculiar moral blindness that afflicts so much of the state bureaucracy. Partly, the result of an unrelenting focus on the “challenges” faced by criminal and dysfunctional individuals – challenges that are permitted to obscure, almost entirely, the consequences of their criminality and dysfunction. Partly, the result of the impulse to offer protection to those deemed “beyond the pale” by the rest of society. And, partly, the result of an ingrained bureaucratic reluctance to have any state agency’s shortcomings exposed to public and political scrutiny. Bring all these together, and the chances of the responsible bureaucrats seeing either the bigger picture, or the even bigger problem, are slim.

From the perspective of Kāinga Ora, gang members harassing and intimidating their neighbours is seen as a symptom of a problem, rather than a problem in its own right. What it tells the caring bureaucrat is something very different from what it would tell just about everybody else – i.e. that it’s time to evict these tenants. On the contrary, such profoundly anti-social behaviour indicates clearly that these individuals are in need of more “wrap-around” assistance. Knee-jerk responses are simply inappropriate in situations of such “extreme complexity”.

Part of that complexity is likely to be the presence of children in the unruly tenants’ household. In the current bureaucratic playbook, the primary objective must be to keep children and their parents together. The object lesson of Oranga Tamariki is there for all state agencies to absorb: don’t allow the world to see Pakeha public servants ripping Māori children from the arms of their mums and dads. Just about anything is preferable to that – up to and including paying-off the unruly tenants’ aggrieved neighbours with large wads of taxpayer cash.

To the rest of the world, of course, the idea of allowing young children to remain in the custody of individuals who abuse and threaten their neighbours, is unthinkable. With that sort of parental example, they would argue, what chance do these kids have of growing into anything other than another generation of violent and uncaring thugs? “Get them out of there! Now!” Would be the immediate response of the average New Zealander. “And then evict their parents!”

In the eyes of the bureaucrats, however, this is exactly what must be avoided. Years of experience have taught them that breaking-up the family unit is only likely to make things worse. They insist that all these allegedly “common sense” solutions end up creating are more unruly citizens. Far fromreducing the number of problematic individuals in state houses, you end up multiplying them. (Overlooked, or downplayed, is the fact that equally dire outcomes tend to flow from families in which unpunished violence, intimidation and harassment are part of everyday existence.)

Reflexively, the attention of the bureaucrats returns to the circumstances of the perpetrators. The complaints of the victims are not assessed on their merits, but in terms of how the incidents cited may have further contributed to the inappropriate behaviour of the offenders. Subtly and, all-to-often, not-so-subtly, it is inferred that the victims have contributed to their own misfortunes. That, somehow, the violence and intimidation experienced by the unruly tenants’ neighbours is their own fault. So fixated have the bureaucrats become with “managing” the perpetrators of what in many cases are criminal offences, that the harassed and terrified people on the receiving end of those offences are simply forgotten.

This is the moral blindness that drives the victims of such behaviour, and all who read about it, to utter distraction. They begin to feel like lab rats in some dark behavioural science experiment. Their terrible experiences are simply incidental to the pathology of the experimental subjects. The quality of the victims’ lives is not the point of the exercise. The agency’s only concern is how successful their interventions are at rendering unruly tenants less unruly.

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Yes, of course they could evict these people. Indeed, the law requires their eviction. But evicting them would bring Kāinga Ora’s important social experiment to a premature close. With so much still to learn about how best to manage these criminal and dysfunctional individuals, that would be a tragedy. Hence the agency’s policy of not evicting even the most horrendous of its tenants.

They say there are none so blind as those who will not see. And, right now, Kāinga Ora is studiously not looking. The same cannot be said of the rest of New Zealand, which is looking at this unfolding scandal very hard, with rising incredulity – and fury. It is clear to everyone that the Minister responsible, Poto Williams, has (like so many of her colleagues) been entirely captured by her officials. Their moral blindness appears to be highly infectious, and Williams has caught it. This is very much a case of ministerial eyes “wide shut”.

Somebody needs to take charge of this debacle – and soon. The stories flooding into the news media feature the sort of copy editors die for. They’ll publish/broadcast everything they get for as long as they keep on getting it.

More ominously, the longer the Labour Government delays intervening decisively to end this scandal, the more credence voters are likely to give to Opposition claims that Labour’s Māori Caucus is responsible for allowing it to continue. The perception will be fed that Labour is “soft” on gangs, and perversely determined to foster one law for Pakeha and another for Māori. This racist narrative is already gaining traction in the wider electorate. Labour needs to shut it down – now.

If law-abiding citizens’ faith in the state’s willingness to protect its citizens from violence, intimidation and harassment is not rewarded with swift and decisive action, then people will look elsewhere, and to others, for protection.

Official inertia and vigilantism are not unrelated.



  1. ” The perception will be fed that Labour is “soft” on gangs, and perversely determined to foster one law for Pakeha and another for Māori. ”

    Perception is reality, the evidence is overwhelming.

  2. Indeed.
    “It is clear to everyone that the Minister responsible, Poto Williams, has (like so many of her colleagues) been entirely captured by her officials.”
    I’m sounding like a stuck record – not without some experience in the PS, but it amazes me how many politicians we’ve elected have inadequate bullshit detectors when it comes to the PS while possessing the art of PR bullshit and spin themselves.
    I used to wonder whether many in the senior and muddle ranks were intentionally trying to sabotage this government from day 1 – not any more. It’s become more obvious by the day. And there a a few real standouts.

    • The present reality of political downfall in NZ demonstrates what tiny goals MPs have for serving the lower income people who are suffering from earlier devastations and abandonment by Labour. At all costs that must not be admitted, faced up to, and in the absence of that, MPs hands and indeed brains are captured and tied.

      If we could face up to the abandoned who are at the centre of the spread of Covid, and take them all to a hotel in the country where they would stay under guard but in comfort, and have the gear to choose something to do, eg young men and women form teams called the Covidbeaters, and practice and have play offs after Christmas with other teams, it would be a bold and creative step in control of infection. But that would stir up indignation, there is no cache of goodwill to draw on to try such a stance.

    • it’s not a question of ‘captured’ they are all from the same class*, went to the same colleges, did the same degrees and subscribe to the same economic and cultural theories…capture is not even remotely necessary when you have groupthink.

      *the ones who weren’t born into the class are soon subsumed by it on joining the ranks they join the gang for the baubles which is possibly more reprehensible than the true belivers

  3. I think you’ll find this mess is rooted in Labour Party policy. The government officials simply did as they’re told and most likely warned the minister that this would happen. Deaf to criticism the ideologue of a minister would have ignored their feedback.
    So now Labour has dug itself into this hole, the relevant officials just say “I told you so” and most likely have the email to prove it.

    Haven’t you watched “Yes Minister”?

    • It is not the officials’ policy delivery at fault here – it is the Labour Cabinet’s policy that no-one in a KO house got evicted.
      Evictions are so ‘judgey’ and harsh – hardly a kind thing for a government to do.

      It is also guaranteed that none of the Ministers or the senior KO officials live anywhere near any of the problem tenants. Members of the Brahmin Left do not live in those areas.

      • Absolutely correct Ada. They live in leafy suburbs, drink coffee in Ponsonby and Devonport and tell everyone about all the Maori friends that have.

  4. Don’t disagree with your post, something should be done. But what? Evict unruly tenants then what? Where do they go, they go somewhere else and carry on. This is nimbyism that solves nothing, just kicking the can down the road. Sadly I agree somewhat with the Natz “get tough on crime” on this one. This is criminal behaviour which makes it the Police and Courts issue to deal with. This is just another symptom of our neo liberal system that has built a huge underclass in Aotearoa. It won’t go away only grow worse with current inequality driving the underclass mad. All Govt depts will do zero as they are beholden to the system. Like Covid we have to live with it, it is a man made problem same as the climate, which also will not be addressed. More tinkering?

    • Violent and destruction tenants who trash houses and neighbours (with proof) should be evicted to emergency accomodation or caravans with a lot more security in place for their neighbours.

      If there are children involved (and most criminals and dysfunctional people seem to hide behind their children) Oranga Tamariki should be monitoring them.

      The problem is that Oranga Tamariki management of the situation and the current ideology is very flawed.

      One of the cases in the state child abuse enquiry.

      “Emery understands now that she was taken because her mother was an abusive drug addict and an alcoholic.

      They can’t even work out their biggest errors which is that they fail to have the stable foster/adoptive parents in place so the kids are not moving every year to poor guardians full of problems.

      “My first placement was with some random lady we didn’t know,” Emery said.

      “The second was with my aunty, it didn’t last long because she was giving us hidings.”

      The only comfort for Emery was that she still had her two baby sisters with her aged four and two at the time.

      The familiarity was the only comfort she could cling to. But that was ripped away from her in their third uplift.

      One of her sisters was sent to live with her father.

      “My sister was four when she was sent to live with her dad,” Emery said.

      “It wasn’t long before he beat her to the point she was hospitalised. The last time I’ve seen her was about eight years ago. I’ve only seen her four or five times since I was five.”

      Emery and her baby sister were shuffled through more placements before returning to their mother, who was pregnant.

      “We were given back to her not long before she was due, but that was only so when CYFs came to pick us up they could take the baby too.”

      The three children were then placed into another home for a year before they returned into the system, where they have stayed ever since.
      The children have been separated. Emery says one placement, which lasted two years, was a living hell.

      “I spent two years in a placement where I was abused every day,” she said.

      “The system is f…..”

      In another, she said she was put through a glass window in Rotorua and ended up in hospital.

      And abuse in state care is of no surprise to Government officials.”

      If you read the stories with a brain, you realise OT pushing kids from pillar to post rather than a stable family is part of the problem of the past, not removing the child in the first place from drug and neglectful parents. .

      Meanwhile Oranga Tamariki are appealing the decision of the judge who ruled for the pakeha family who took in a child but Oranga Tamariki three years later wants to tear it away from them to they can live with another relative.

      Who are hell wants to foster and take in children under these circumstances?

      OT identity war is heart breaking for non identity folks to be a pawn in their system and have kids torn away after long periods of time to places of harm (aka relatives or back to parents, who abuse and hospitalise them).

      Also if they want to help the parents, work it out, they are drugged out and with alcohol dependancy.

      So who is Labour and Greens favourite small businesses and people who they give compassionate NZ citizenship to, drug smugglers, criminals, gangs and liquor barons and their employees!

      • It occurs to me that when society organises itself so that it takes all meaningful opportunity and hope away from so many people, who are then cast into gangs as an alternative social structure, thrown into poverty, and driven into gambling, alcohol, drugs, and crime, then we create ghettos of ‘unruly tenants’ about whom nothing can practicably be done.

        Yes, we can seize their children and put them away somewhere else for the time being, and we can tell the adults to move on. Like asking homeless drunks to move on, the problem is then shifted elsewhere, possibly to a location right near you.

        Society and its endemic greed has created this problem, and that’s where the solution is to be found. Taking away so much from people, then punishing them for not having it, is the highway to hell that we’re on, and that is getting us into increasingly worse social-economic trouble.

        • I’m not sure ‘society’ agrees with drug smugglers like Sroubek being given NZ residency for compassionate reasons! That is government policy not society policy. Society is increasingly pretty outraged by all these exploiters coming to NZ and everyone else is victimised from them and bleeding heart media stories weekly about how yet another bad thing happened (generally family members dying or being hurt) and so they of course the rest of the family must be given NZ citizenship and residency for the rest of their lives. Only happens in NZ!

        • ok what about putting aside particular developments preferably out of town where the swinish can roost together and other tenents can be free of them…and don’t say ‘ghetto’ there behavior will be self selecting not imposed upon them…if not the private sector is there option.

    • greenbus, no it’s not mimbyism the victims are the poor, the old and the disabled, who rent social housing from the govt/local council and are entitled to the same protections as private tenants..end of.

      as for the kids it’s not the neighbors problem, it’s the parents own abuse, deal with that, why should people who meet their obligations be at the mercy of some no-marks…there’s 2 groups of victims here kids and neighbors..what happens to the kids is not part of the social housing providers remit, that’s for other agencies to deal with.

  5. I can imagine the same media making the same noises if Kāinga Ora had quickly removed unruly tenants with repeated sob stories from those removed painting them as hard done by individuals. The MSM is well known for being selective about what it publishes & while there will be problem people I would prefer knowing all the facts before passing judgment.

  6. You can just see that some Kelburn dwelling liberal bureaucrats along with weevil brained middle class government ministers feel gang members are really just big misunderstood folk and kindness will be their salvation. Hence Kaianga Ora’s idiotic no eviction policy.

    Meanwhile back on planet Earth, those types are just pure dysfunctional scum who see empathy as weakness to be exploited, infinitely.

    This government is positively radiating weak on crime and strong on criminal love. Ordinary people don’t like this, I can tell you.

    I’m sure there will be some immediate window dressing take place to alter their perceptions and get it out of the spotlight whilst maintaining their warped status quo experiment.

    As i said yesterday, what Kaianga Ora are doing really damages Kaianga Ora’s reputation, what’s left of it, and it’s reason for being!

  7. Labour has been soft on criminals at the expense of the rest of us from day one.
    People like these should be thrown in jail without opportunity for parole simply because they are valueless, irredeemable menaces to society.

    • Jay, I would hazard a guess that a lot of these dysfunctional people’s behaviour has originated from previous stints in jail. We first need to remove gang control from our prisons if we are to achieve anything. Also, you may not have noticed our jails are already overcrowded and the problem is getting worse – if we keep doing the same things, why expect a different outcome?

      • “a lot of these dysfunctional people’s behaviour has originated from previous stints in jail”

        So the fact that they were in jail was presumably no fault of their own????

    • Yes Jays, that would work. But you’d need to keep them there pretty much for good. And the more of them that society produces, the more you’re going to be locking up. So you’re going to need lots and lots more jails, and lots and lots more tax to keep those jails running. Then, every time there’s a ‘valueless, irredeemable menace to society’, off to jail they go for good, and the rest of us can then enjoy our very own Kiwi equivalent of “The Truman Show”.

      • Ever wondered where these irredeemable people come from?
        They largely come from parents who were irredeemable.
        Lock them up, stop them breeding and break the cycle.

        This new age bullshit that deep down, everyone is essentially the same and good needs to go. Worthless people need to be treated as such.
        Put them on a remote island and leave them there. Cost = fuck all.

        • tata Jays I’ll make an executive decision.
          Worthless people putting forward ideas that are worthless for improving our situation – might as well write such drones off. Net benefit sensible action from government that controls agencies and the self-oriented and a reduction in the dumb aggression that froths up without the pretty patterns you get on a latte.

  8. More taxes on the way, in a similar note today that in was announced that Labour are introducing a 2% + 2% extra tax for unemployment insurance. We already have the dole, why not save copious amounts of bureaucracy by making unemployment available from day 1!

    Imagine the scams as somebody employs someone on a ‘high wage’ only to lay them off at 80% full pay that the other employers and employees have to pay for!

    Yipee, something for the exploiters and fraudsters to get their teeth into now the wage subsidies are declining!

    How about some personal responsibility for the bad employers constantly laying people off who have to PAY each time, so they are disincentivized to do it.

    NOPE, woke, neoliberals are determined to make the good subsidise the bad eggs (and encourage and support the bad behaviour) NOT put in measures to make people accountable financially for their decision instead.

    Just like the Scum tenants getting everything while the victims are homeless!

    Or the committee led Meth guidelines that the social housing ‘charities’ consulted on!

    Woke Madness strikes again!

  9. The problem with this is that the government can’t just be reactionary. I don’t think anyone would disagree with eviction being warranted in situations like this. The issue though is what to do with them after they’re evicted? Do you leave them with no state help thus effectively homeless? Homelessness is a hot button issue and the government is trying to reduce it not increase it. If you put them up in another state house – could you find one with no close neighbours? Probably not. It’s easy to stand on the sidelines and scream “evict” – and I’d be one of those people screaming – but when those people are in your care, your responsibilty doesn’t end with the eviction. They are still your problem, but now a homeless problem.

    • Well said Brad, I totally agree. It is a seemingly unsolvable problem; simply calling for endless evictions and imprisonments will solve nothing.

  10. They could build some houses to take the pressure off putting people in the wrong place? Or is that leftfield thinking too hard for these incompetent clowns?

    Recently developer after developer has been turned down by Kainga Ora to build collectively more than 13,000 homes!
    Imagine the jobs! The first time house buyers opportunity to buy a home which will then free up rental accommodation!
    Or is this rocket science stuff?

    They could also become an active partner in all this by becoming a global material buying partner!

    Or is this too hard and leftfield kinda thinking?

  11. This female is an idiot, there because shes a Maori (birds flock together) her school name was probably Potato i think, her thought processes are as fast as a potato in the ground….sorry folks for the perceived racism,some gang member threatening to bash a pensioner and threatening to gut him out worries me about this ministerial waste of space and oxygen…a potato

  12. The criminals should be punished and victims should be protected. To do otherwise is obvious perversion of justice. The state is most of all obliged to protect the citizens and not to care about those who do not want to obey laws and rules. The tenants who do not obey the rules should be evicted, they were given their chance but their behaviour disqualified them. There are thousand who would happily succeed on their place who are willing to obey the rules. The state is not our mother and father and once we are adult we are responsible for what we do.
    To move “problematic” families to one place will create “no go zones”. It is always easier to deal with an individual than with a group. Those who would be evicted can rent with a private landlord or can become homeless. They either will learn or not, it depends on them.
    As for the children, maybe there is the time to rethink the institutional residential care (there are heaps of boarding schools that prove that it is possible to do it well) and to place the children to foster families only when there is a warrant that the child will be cared for better than in the institution.

  13. There is no easy fix. There are too many variables here. It will need to be determined on a case by case basis. If you label all the members of one particular group in society and frame laws around that, then you’re not achieving anything worthwhile in the long term. Haven’t we learned anything from the vaccinated vs. unvaccinated division?

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