Why Are The Greens Enabling Private Property Developers?


STEPHEN MINTO’S POST throws into sharp relief the utter collapse of ideological credibility within the New Zealand Greens. That the Greens could openly align themselves with private property developers, and facilitate the transfer of public wealth into the hands of capitalist entrepreneurs, is astonishing. About the only upside to this extraordinary betrayal of everything Green politics stands for is that it proves conclusively that whatever this party’s MPs might call themselves, they are NOT Greens – and now everybody knows it.

The question that stands in the most urgent need of an answer is – how could this happen? In fewer than 20 years, the New Zealand Greens have degenerated from a vibrant parliamentary party that commanded respect from even its staunchest ideological foes, to a collection of slogan-shouters who, when challenged, cannot explain what their slogans mean, or why they are shouting them. Understanding how political fashion was able to triumph over political coherence in the contemporary Green Party, is critical to rebuilding the eco-socialist movement this country so desperately needs to combat the effects of climate change.

A big part of the answer is generational.

The original Greens, the “magnificent seven” who ran up the steps of Parliament in 1999, were Baby Boomers. Between them they represented just about all of the key political, social, and environmental movements that had defined progressive New Zealand politics between 1965-1985. With one exception. The “magnificent seven” did not include a representative of the Māori struggle for tino rangatiratanga. Green Party politics, like the politics of the Values Party which preceded it, was a product of the “Peak Pakeha” era. Its coherence would not survive the impact of the Māori Renaissance and the re-birth of te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Politicians who had won their spurs in the Peak Pakeha era were sufficiently ideologically grounded to ride the wild storms of Treaty politics. The Green Boomers adapted to the new cultural and political protocols of Māori nationalism, but they did not succumb to them.

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The same could not be said for the younger Greens. Raised in an era of rising cultural uncertainties and conflicts, they lacked a solid place to stand. This made them much less confident – ideologically, emotionally and spiritually – than their elders. Compared to the rising generation of politically assertive Māori, the young Pakeha Greens were weak.

And weakness breeds resentment. Like so many of those who were born after the Boomers, the younger Greens found themselves living in a world radically different from their parents’ and grandparents’. With little or no personal memories of the New Zealand before neoliberalism, they found it easier to attribute their generational predicament: student loans, unaffordable housing, precarious employment; to Boomer selfishness.

The generation who had been given it all, had decided, cruelly, to keep it all. Such was the claim. That it was a middle-class-Pakeha delusion largely escaped the Boomers’ young accusers. A forgivable failure, given neoliberalism’s extraordinary success at rendering class oppression invisible. Throw into this dangerous mental mix the guilty feelings of “White Privilege” heaped upon young progressive Pakeha activists, and it’s easy to grasp what made the Boomers such a tempting scapegoat.

All these Boomers living in their Victorian and Edwardian villas, with their bright cottage gardens, cosy firepits, and mature trees. So smug. So determined to keep their “heritage” neighbourhoods unsullied. So well-versed in the arcane arts of nimbyism. And so many poor people (their own kids included!) in need of warm, dry, affordable housing. Not that the Boomers gave a damn – they had everything they needed.

Not for long! Young Green activists, working hand-in-glove with their progressive comrades in Central Government, were determined to burst these selfish Boomer bubbles of privilege. Legislation would be passed that effectively made it impossible to say “Not in my back-yard!” The luckiest generation had run out of luck. The Boomers were about to discover what it feels like to be on the receiving end of unbridled state power.

And yet, as Minto so clearly points out, these young Green activists at the end of the generational alphabet have turned out to be as ignorant of capitalist economics as they are of capitalist politics. Arming oneself with all the coercive powers of the state is no guarantee that what emerges from the planning process will be to the advantage of the poor.

For the poor to benefit from state intervention, they must first attain direct influence over how, and on whose behalf, the state intervenes. But, what was true of the First Labour Government and its state-housing programme, is not true of Jacinda’s government of “kindness”. The poor have absolutely no control, and virtually no influence, over the modern Labour Party. If they did, would they really be asking private property developers to build them affordable houses? If they did, would we really have had the debacle of KiwiBuild?

The four guiding principles of the international Green movement: ecological wisdom, social justice, participatory democracy, nonviolence; are there to prevent party organisations from arriving at the same arid destination as the parties of social-democracy.

Had the Greens been guided by considerations of social justice and participatory democracy they would have not looked up for the power they needed, they would have looked down. Had they been wise, they would have recognised that cities, too, have their own ecologies, and that these are as worthy of conservation as forests and rivers. They most certainly would have recoiled from the prospect of relying upon the institutional violence of legal coercion to bulldoze a path to their objectives.

Sadly, they weren’t guided by any of these principles. Sadder still, the decision of the Greens to throw in their lot with private property developers makes it clear that the poor have no more control, no more influence, over the modern Green Party than they do over the modern Labour Party.

If they did, then the probability is high that they would have insisted on having a strong hands-on presence in the planning, design, and construction of affordable homes. It is equally likely that the whole exercise would not have been geared towards private profit, but to the fulfilment of proven public need.

It is also a pretty safe bet that the Greens’ housing programme would have amounted to something more than an elaborate excuse for getting back at Mum and Dad.


  1. Seriously, who believes the Greens are a bunch of poor hippies? Most of the MPs are from comfortable backgrounds, where talking Left, but acting Right is a way of life.

    • You make a very valid point: Scratch beneath the surface and you’ll find the Greens origins are upper middle class: Most spoilt narcissistic brats with trust funds hiding in the background.

      Few if any have the scientific or technical training required to formulate competent policy: Theirs is a performative game, for a few years, and then disappear with an MPs pension in their back pocket.

      • Andrew – thank you…I once met 2 Green MPs nice enough, but middle class all the way, and not in a good way either…

      • Trust funds, Panama papers, Greens should go with National given your upper middle class , hidden funds comment.

    • Stephen Minto does himself a disservice with the headline ‘Have the Greens become the new Facists?’, and Trotter himself a disservice by pointing to it. I presume they mean ‘fascists’, and once we begin calling people we disagree with fascists, arguments disappear down the dunny.
      There is a need for densification, to enable as many people as possible to live, work, and play without having to travel long distances. That’s good for the environment. There is a need to stop cities sprawling into adjacent horticultural land (Horowhenua, Pukekohe). That’s good for the environment.
      The Greens are confronted by the refusal of Labour to embrace what needs to be done: for the state to embark on mass urban redesign, building 100,000 homes for secure, lifetime, income-moderated rent by all who want them; and building those homes densely in carefully designed, environmentally sensitive inner-city neighbourhoods.
      Given Labour’s intransigence, is it not better to encourage capitalist corporations to build-to-rent at scale, rather than continue to condemn tens of thousands of renters to the indignities to which Mum-and-Dad slumlords subject them?
      And where the capitalist landlords with their build-to-rent projects are absent, is it still not better to allow piecemeal densification rather than to allow cities to sprawl across nearby agricultural land?
      Trotter and Minto would do better to aim their guns at Labour, for that is where the true problem is.

      • So what are the Greens going to do about it – apart from taking MPs salaries, and the associated perks, and releasing media statements??

        • Greens were the unnecessary fifth leg of the Government horse this time. Vote for more Greens and if they are actually needed in government next time, they will be able to insist on action, not lamely beg. Or vote te Paati Māori, or TOP: anything to hobble the neolib Labour monolith.

  2. Talking sport. For their own good, the Greens need to be trashed next year. They need to lose. Badly. Really, sometimes a painful loss is the only way to force a team to get back to basics and look at its purpose.

    • Does that really happen SK? Why has that not worked for National? They had their arse handed to them in the last election. They have “got back” but unfortunately not to basics. They haven’t got rid of Goodfellow properly, and they have not created any vision just “got back” to desperately tired talking points. They have taken the following dictionary definition of conservative “averse to change or innovation and holding traditional values”

      It seems when parties go south in this country members just leave and what is left plods on

      • Having said that, I stand by my opinion of these current Green. In case of National, there core purpose is not to be an environmental party. Whereas the Greens are…we’ll that what the name suggests. Listen to Bombwr climb into the Greens…they need to get rid of the red radical in there.

  3. This article is a NIMBY’s cry from the heart.

    “I am losing my right to veto other people’s choices to build new housing near me….”

    • Noone wants your fantasies of child sex theme parks, libertarian.

      If there’s a housing shortfall, the government should be building it. Simple as.

        • as it happens check out the german greens and the Indianerkommune once again the greens are very different now but…
          and before anyone gloats too much amnesty international made exactly the same mistakes in the UK

          our greens are merely a middle class pressure group looking to get political perks and behave accordingly.

    • Ada Chanting “Nimbyism “ may be more of a deflection from the myriad of current and historical complexities, than a realistic answer.

      • I would say that the impact of NIMBYism on NZ’s lack of adequate housing stock is understudied and under-appreciated.

        We had adequate rates of house building before the Town Planning Act and the RMA, for example.

  4. Why Are The Greens Enabling Private Property Developers?

    Well, for a start, NONE of the 5 highest polling parties are left wing.

    NZ has been a far-right neoliberal experiment for 3 decades.
    The state of our health, energy, financial, educational and emergency services are evidence of this.

    Not ONE party wants to overturn this failed disaster.
    Just tinker at the edges, trying in vain to “make it work”.

    Will it ever end?
    Climate Change: “Hold my beer”.

  5. The greens are their own worst enemy. Chris has alluded to the originals who were born out of a true desire to clean up the environment and stop the abuse of the sea and it’s bounty, along with land based mining etc. They stuck to it and earned a good following because the general population started to understand these issues better because of the publicity that came from the green platform. The guiding principals of the international green movement that Chis quotes, are to me certainly worthy to strive for, but like Jacinda’s list of social justices that she promised to put right, they are much harder to attain when you actually have to do something other than talk. As a righty I never took the greens too seriously because many of their solutions meant less growth economically. That’s not to say they were wrong. Since their beginings they have got lost. In my opinion James Shaw has tried to make the green policies more practical. I think that’s a good thing, but it was never going go down well with the party faithful because it was seen to be diluting the medicine needed for the world to recover environmentally. In his bid to portray a sensibly green approach to our issues here in NZ he has infuriated the pure greens who want all or nothing. Davidson isn’t worth commenting on. This new venture to help solve the housing crises is just another step into the wilderness for them. Miles from their roots, fiddling and interfering with things they know nothing about. I can’t see cheap housing for the needy here, so not even social justice. Just social injustice for those in the area who have no say or input. There’s nothing good here for the greens.

  6. Did you see that picture of them, on the sparkly rainbow unicorn, waving about money? I guess they like their cut.

  7. “Why Are The Greens Enabling Private Property Developers?”
    I’m certainly no rocket surgeon and yet even I can answer that question.
    It’s because ‘The Green Party’ are fringe groupies to neoliberalism and neoliberalism is, in case one’s either dumb or has just regained consciousness, a form of polite fascism which uses capitalism to manipulate our democracy for their power and profit.
    While our democracy is plagued by capitalism our politics are going to be capitalistic. [Adjective.]
    Wikipedia: ( lest we forget.)
    “Capitalism is an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production and their operation for profit. Central characteristics of capitalism include capital accumulation, competitive markets, price system, private property, property rights recognition, voluntary exchange, and wage labor.” Sounds great doesn’t it. But who knew that underneath the hair and false eyelashes there lurked monsters like this fucker.
    Graham Hart.
    “Graeme Hart inducted into NZ Business Hall of Fame”
    “New Zealand’s richest man Graeme Hart has a three-pronged expansion strategy: buying a string of Auckland residential properties”
    Graham Hart reckons he can smell the money… Well I reckon I can smell the rats.
    Put simply; the crooks have taken over the show. AO/NZ is a crooks game, but wait ? There’s more!
    AO/NZ’s been a crooks game for fucking generations.
    ‘Graeme Hart inducted into NZ Business Hall of Fame…’ That, is hilarious for its audacious arrogance.

  8. I’d be interested to know how the likes of Cloe, or Ricardo (just for example) really really feel about it all.
    I keep thinking it really is just going to all play out. It has to before any sort of rebuilding can begin.
    Let’s hope though, that after the ’23 result, various politicians don’t expect “us” – this team of 5 million – to feel any sympathy for them.
    And in Labour, I wonder about some of their relatively intelligent beings. Nactoids are committed ideologues stuck in the old world, so they’re just going to have to disappear up their own arses where they definitely will expect the rest of “us” to feel sympathy for them.
    I guess one day it might dawn on them that it’s time to change the cistern in which they operate. It gives me motivation to do my best to live into my 70s and 80s to watch it all. With a bit of luck I might be able to empty my colostomy bag on their places of burial. (THere’s hope @Countryboy). And good to see so far that a few of them have had their karma even if a few others have been casualties of their “pieces of work”.
    It’d be a pleasure to return a tiny part of their shit

    • There will be no “team of 5 million” should Nact get in. The country will be divided into a them and us situation. People think crime is bad now, just wait until Nact get in, the crime rate will be 10 fold.
      Whilst house prices are being corrected now and houses built, Nact will reverse that Stat as the have always done in power.

      • where is this country currently united and a ‘team of five million’? Of the slogan that was the worst considering that citizens were refused the right to come home.
        No the division that you know pre-emptively want to blame Nat for – who are at the very least another year away from potentially winning anything – is Labours.
        This country voted almost unanimously for dear Jacinda, and now people start spitting tacks when the name gets mentioned.
        Nah, Division is the one gift Labour gave the country. And NZ/Aotearoa is a much poorer country for it.

      • LOL that team of 5 million has worn really thin Bert. You’re part of the team unless you’re :
        >a ‘dirty dairy’ farmer
        >a tradie with a ute
        >a boomer with a renter
        >a gas station owner
        >a supermarket owner
        >refuse to get vaccinated
        >or are of purely European descent

      • Hahahahahahahahaha you are quite a card Bert. The Joker in fact. NZ is already as divided as fuck. More divided and unhappy and grumpy as ever. That includes the likes of Bomber and Trotter and 95% of the blogger here (not you of course). Jacinda with her underhand and uber transparent agenda took care of acute unhappiness long long long ago. If you still believe there is this ‘mythical PR spin’ team of 5 million, then you are so utterly brainwashed…one can only assume you are seriously stupid, or hypnotised…or you live in Jacinda’s household. All of the above possibly.

  9. Yup. Chloe in Auckland is in cahoots with Auckland Councils Panuku who dont do Social Housing(Currently in the HRC Tribunal for this v JT) but instead, Gentrification/’Regeneration’, kicking out the poor in State housing so that Kainga Ora can sell those properties and build Houses to make money.
    Chloe recently at a campaign hui in Auckland was promoting this programme; Intensification, Gentrification and CC funding from ratepayers.

    Even the chairman of Panuku P Majurey has stated that Auckland Council doesnt do social housing.

    The proto fascist gweenies dont really know what they’re about.

  10. Excellent article Chris. Great point about the use of use of Boomer terminology as a distraction from the economics underneath. At heart the David Shaw leadership of co-option and co-operation means they have lost their foundation. I think he just saw it as sensible and pragmatic and it is anything but. Thank you.

    • James Shaw I think Stephen – careful or you will lose credibility. but i have noted that there seem a lot of Davids. I have quite gone off the name.

  11. Probably most of the successful NZs have either made their money from housing, dairy cows, property or modern tech. There is a life outside those main divisions but who cares? They can live where they please and it doesn’t please them to think about their fairytale lifestyle, like water striders*, while others plod on if they are committed to living amongst other ordinary persons. *https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-8i_HIwkkA

    A man famous for making money is Graeme Hart, follow his advice and maybe you can get to be a billionaire.
    Go on – get on wirh it what’s holding you back? Lack of clear goals from the first can mean that you don’t prepare yourself for life. And that is what you have to do, not wait for life to come to you. Making lots of money is not the task, it is being able to earn enough to manage and make a living for yourself. That’s hard today, to do that but looking at the empty RTD bottles out for collection indicates to me that some just squander much of their income. Hart was lucky that he had a father who’d help and the bank came forward too. But working right is then needed. He could have come a bumper.

    Someone who showed initiative and came a bumper I think, dying at only 51. She deserves honouring. More than Hart, for the good she was trying to do, not just for the money that she might make and a bounteous life. I hope she did receive that.
    2006 Beautiful tall poppy’ dies

    Larger-than-life entrepreneur Karroll Brent-Edmondson died in Auckland yesterday afternoon, aged 51, after a 14-month battle with cancer.
    The award-winning businesswoman was behind the company KT Footwear, which hired long-term unemployed young Maori to make children’s shoes in South Auckland.
    The former ward of the state – who learned how to read and write only after leaving school – set up the firm in 1991 after returning from Australia, where she ran restaurants and a soup kitchen for expatriate Maori.

    Still this self-satisfied saying actually has a big lump of truth – ‘I’m often lucky, and the more I think and the more effort and work I put into my affairs, the luckier I get.’ So Hart saw opportunities and worked at them. He was poised and ready and in his element like the water strider. When NZ’s shell of complacency and regular union handouts and cost of living rises was fractured, he was among the other seagulls waiting to get some goodies.
    IDEA – The seagull needs to be our logo bird, they are so us, like chips, cheeky and big individualists, but always ready for a handout – from the bennie level to the selling of state assets at marked down prices, and specially engineered low tenders winners.

    (Kiwis need to be the logo for our Conservation and environment efforts, along with the Black Robin or Chatham Island Robin,* a triumph of careful preservation we should be proud of; also in he team – kakapo, kea and the albatross.)
    * https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_robin – It was first described by Walter Buller in 1872

  12. What public housing policy could have hoped to deal with that massive extra million people as we become the (fleeting) team of five million?

    At its heart the current housing crisis is a failure of immigration policy.

    And we still don’t have a coherent immigration policy from the Government.
    And we still don’t have a coherent immigration policy from the Opposition.

    A plague on all our houses…

  13. Having said that, I stand by my opinion of these current Green. In case of National, there core purpose is not to be an environmental party. Whereas the Greens are…we’ll that what the name suggests. Listen to Bombwr climb into the Greens…they need to get rid of the red radical in there.

  14. I doubt it.

    No one for a second believes the Greens have the bullying culture of neoliberal Labour for instance. Not that social democratic Labour was any better but they had more legitimacy.

    • and the nats don’t actively recruit actual private school thugs for mps..do give it a rest sumsuch, any allegation you level it labs is pretty much guaranteed to apply to the nats too.

  15. Quite amused about you slinging around to deliver this minor matter, Chris. But opinioners have the time. What matters most? But will that sell? A complete description of the modern Left.

    A lot more brilliant talk, persuasion, would have helped avert our soon species end.

    I remember three talk defeats of you: Mike Moore, the snowy-headed son of a communist, Richard something, and, from your words, Hooten. Nil disregard for you on that basis, I, more than most people, understand we all have our own medium. Just wish we had a talker like Hitchens. Or a much less bright Leftist, just as long as s/he drove. One of my family’s strength, drive. We’re often not too bright.

  16. Greens might not bully within their party, but they sure as hell like to bully those who don’t agree with their ideologies.

  17. ” That the Greens could openly align themselves with private property developers, and facilitate the transfer of public wealth into the hands of capitalist entrepreneurs, is astonishing ”

    Answered by your next comment

    ” given neoliberalism’s extraordinary success at rendering class oppression invisible ”

    And that success has now been complete now that the current generational Greens are now capitalists for kindness must disgust , sadden and unnerve Sue Bradford , Keith Lock , Russell Norman and many others who were always a thorn in the side of neo liberal pretend progressives capitalists with a smile.

  18. Follow the money.

    I would be incredibly surprised if there is not or will not be a series’s of donations just under the declaration threshold going into the Greens and Labours coffers..

  19. Why Are The Greens Enabling Private Property Developers?

    Have they made rents go up and become scarcer?

    Do the taxpayers now have huge debts from more renters paying a fortune to private corporate ventures such as hotels and Compass stays?

    Do students now die in student hostels but nobody discovers them, even as the corporate bills them for their stay while dead?

    Are more and more working class and professionals leaving NZ as they are tired of stupid policy that helps few middle class people living here, in particular does not help mums and dads trying to get ahead and save, while spending everyones taxes on corporate subsidies?

    Are people sick of the Greens pretending to help Maori with virtue signalling and Te reo, as their lives are worse and everyone elses by poorly thought out policy that they never deliver on and then go on to wreck something else?

  20. Well I am surprised that from all these comments not one points out that the basic point of Chris’s post is to compare a policy of funding property developers to build housing now is somehow different from what te labour government did all those years ago when James Fletcher , New Zealand’s most successful property developer in history persuaded the then Labour government to contract him to build thousands of state houses. It set him up to form the huge Fletcher multinational that we all grew up with.
    Please explain Chris what is the difference between then and now? In what way was funding a property developer to build housing then different from funding property developers to build houses now ?
    D J S

    • Because somehow big executive and shareholder profits and not delivering services in the 21st century have become the mainstream. Thus corporates from pre 1980’s are a completely different beast to post 1980’s corporates. Not just in NZ – happening around the world as corporates buy up state assets cheaply, then selll them back as expensive services to the state.

      “In 1996, the Ministry of Defence decided to sell off its housing stock. The financier Guy Hands bought it up in a deal that would make his investors billions – and have catastrophic consequences for both the military and the taxpayer.”

  21. Meh. Why blame the Greens when it’s all the rage now. Even one of the organisers of Burn Loot Murder, Patricce Cullors, self-described “trained Marxist”, ended up owning several houses, all in “nice” neighbourhoods – and she and other “leaders” abandoned some $60 million in unspent BLM funds to the control of one of Hillary Clinton’s primary lawyers.

  22. And why blame the Greens when everyone’s doing it. Even Patrice “Trained Marxist” Cullors, of Burn Loot Murder founding fame, ended up owning several houses – and quitting when questions started to be asked.

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