Why the identity politics lens in NZ journalism is failing us on poverty


With 60% of our newsrooms now female, the lens of woke identity seems to be all that matters.

Today’s latest example however takes that lens of woke identity and has instead manufactured our first ‘Purity of Identity’ journalism.

I’ve argued and have used example after example of how the woke newsrooms covered Carmel Sepuloni’s rise as Deputy.

I’ve noted how every single one of them glossed over her appalling record as Minister for Welfare to instead sing praises of her win from purely an identity perspective.

Read The Spinoff, Stuffs and NZ Heralds review of her appointment and it’s all identity politics soaked ‘you go girl’ feminism that champions her being the first Pacific Island Deputy.

There is no reflection whatsoever on her time as Minister presiding over the very weak and vulnerable that those woke newsrooms profess to care about, because when we do that, the gloss strips away very quickly.

Now let me be clear, I love our Pacific Community, and they should celebrate a Pacific Island appointee after the decades and decades of loyalty they’ve shown the Labour Party, but by only viewing her appointment through the middle class identity politics lens, The Spinoff, Stuff and NZ Herald have miss the real story an do their readers a terrible disservice.

For the woke, diversity and representation are the only currency, meritocracy is a heteronormative white male privilege and nothing matters more than identity.

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Which is deeply problematic because a critical analysis of Carmel Sepuloni’s time as Social Welfare Minister highlights how shallow The Spinoff, Stuff and NZ Heralds ‘journalism’ is.

The Minister refused to implement any single one of the 42 key recommendations from the Welfare Expert Advisory Group…

Govt yet to fully implement a single key WEAG recommendation nearly three years on: new research

None of the 42 key recommendations of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group (WEAG) have been fully implemented almost three years after the report release, with 22 minimally or partially implemented, new research by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) has found

….The Minister threw 4000 disabled beneficiaries off welfare…

Govt sanctions sick jobseekers for failing to prepare for work

The Labour Government has cut the benefits of around 4000 sick, injured of disabled jobseekers in the last five years because they weren’t preparing to return to work fast enough.

…and most appallingly, the Minister gutlessly acquiesced to State Services to remove the Children’s Commissioner from overseeing Oranga Tamariki which will see vulnerable children in State care made even more vulnerable.

Carmel Sepuloni is a Labour Party Social Welfare Minister, in her time she has implemented no recommendations to make life easier for beneficiaries, she has thrown 4000 disabled beneficiaries off welfare and  she has made the life of vulnerable children in state care far more dangerous, and yet as far as the female journalists at Spinoff, Stuff and NZ Herald are concerned none of that matters because hashtag feminism, hashtag diversity.

This celebration of Identity above all else is warping our news media and the issue is far wider than coverage of Carmel Sepuloni, it extends to the perception of poverty as well.

Back in November 2021 when we were chasing vaccination rates, there were 159, 810 Māori unvaccinated, 42, 183 Pasifika unvaccinated and a staggering 317, 544 Pakeha who are unvaccinated!

By constantly screaming vaccine hesitancy was a Māori and Pasifica problem, we let 317, 544 Pakeha off the hook!

I fear we’ve done the same thing with child poverty.

There are 156,700 children in poverty in households with less than 50% median equivalised disposable household income before deducting housing costs (BHC), 53,600 identify as Maori, 72,600 identify as pakeha.

There are more white children in poverty than Māori children and that might be difficult to visualise because the focus is almost exclusively on Māori children.

Yes, proportionately these stats hit Māori hardest, but by allowing that to decide the entire focus of the debate we ignore the far larger numerical problem of those issues impacting poor White families and that allows an escape to scrutinize what’s really happening.

By constantly blaming Māori we can’t see that this is a failure of neoliberalism that cascades across race. Look at the chart above, the poverty rate soared post Rogernomics!

It’s not an identity issue, it’s a class issue exacerbated by a neoliberal economic hegemony that purposely rigs the system!

Identity politics journalism is seen as activism first, journalism second and it is missing the far larger questions and context, and by doing so divides rather than builds.

There are numerically more white people in poverty than Māori and some Māori led organisations see more Pakeha from their community than Māori!

By ignoring the material wellbeing and pain of white communities, we plant seeds of spite, that’s why Universal Left Social Policy is essential to this debate.

It’s about the economic well being of everyone utilising well funded public services that subsidise the cost of living by taxing the mega rich.



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  1. Saw the same thing in a government department with the girls warbling how great it was that a Maori woman got a service manager’s job who was useless, thick, and in fact a native Fijian without even New Zealand citizenship. She subsequently got moved sideways. I wouldn’t want to fly in a plane just because the pilot was ethnically correct.

    However Sepuloni is not solely to blame for this government’s refusal to realistically address poverty, or for her appalling decision to ruthlessly kneecap the Commissioner for Vulnerable Children.

    • I’ve seen the same sort of thing in the public service except that managers are scared to remove or reprimand them for fear of consequences on themselves, then when the useless but ethnically correct manager was in a position to hire other staff they invariably chose others like them.

  2. Martyn – this anti ‘white cis men’ position does not hold up to basic questioning, and statistics…

  3. So by my CHOOSING not to get a vaccine I was “let off the hook”

    well I guess when I see all the sudden deaths and side effects I was let of the hook lmao

    vax me harder daddy!

  4. Who cares about real numbers or real journo’s for that matter! Sarcasm.

    Under woke rule, we would never have Peter Jackson or Jane Campion funded anymore as white, cis people.

    It is not just funding projects based solely on a woke ideology that is the problem, it is the opportunity cost to other people who never got a chance in NZ.

    Sadly the chickens are coming home to roost with the woke in charge.

    NZ’s trade deficit forecast to be the worst among advanced economies

    Woke can talk all they want, they can get as many minorities, refugees, migrants, 501’s, foreign pensioners and children, as many fake or academically mediocre students, but they support a closed system of need that is now making more ethnic NZ kids including Pakeha, poorer and poorer and our country dumber and dumber.

    Wellington City Council unsure how cycle lane just inches wide happened

    Every street lamp in Wellington at risk of falling down, residents warned

    Skypath project likely cancelled over technical problems

    “There are more white children in poverty than Māori children and that might be difficult to visualise because the focus is almost exclusively on Māori children.”

    Apparently the jails are now at capacity. Coming soon, Kiwi-Jail the new, warm, dry jails built for respected clients and expected to be available 2050!

    Woke can’t seem to find many real workers in their immigration policy and NZ wages are not allowed to rise for inflation (unlike food and everything else) but our immigration policy (up 195%) it does seem to help poverty, crims and social disorder!

    Unfortunately with “victim” being the new social currency for woke, it fails to measure the cost to others.

    Crime isn’t a victimless crime, as much as woke seem to want it to be. The “hug it out” and “discharges without conviction” to people who should know better, seem to be normalising questionable behaviour and allowing perps to hide and revictimise others. There is no easy answer, but allowing so many crims and people who are going to be a drain on everyone else, to come to NZ in the first place, allowing crims to stay in NZ for decades who should have been deported as a zero tolerance policy (like Finland), and making current crims feel they are the victims, while virtue signalling more to come, is part of why the NZ jails are full and people are not working, they are recovering in hospitals and mental institutions.

    The next generation are growing up, thinking it is ok to attack others and not contribute, because their victims are privileged and deserve it. Plus they have their internal journey to worry about! All this is being funded by taxpayers money and the woke media who do story after story about how really the perp is the victim, crims or fringe lifestyles from their perspective, and only fund versions of victimhood or identity that fits their agenda. The poetry mentioned the other day, is an example of the rot.

    • Funding ? Enough funding to produce an “ opera” about Brit tourists behaving badly in New Zealand, including shamefully exploiting hapless young children, but acceptable because it shows white persons as deviants. An opera showcasing murderous cannibalistic Te Rauparaha on the rampage slaughtering his own people ? Never. Name a family aquatic centre in memory of him instead, and fabricate lies about singular Yorkshireman, Captain James Cook. That’s New Zealand under the divisive woke yoke, courtesy of we the taxpayers.

      • They have cancelled the musket wars in the NZ school history when Maori tribes starting killing each other and 25% of Maori were massacred. Woke NZ history is from their own lens and the inconvenient truths deleted.

        Not sure that anyone is going to learn much from the NZ history as told by woke – the whole point of history is to look back and learn from mistakes and why people did what they did and what happened so you can hopefully do better next time.

        However in the woke version of NZ history taught via ministry of education, Maori are the victims, Maori never attacked each other, Maori were victims tricked into treaty signing after defeating the English, and they even seem to be making up what is in the treaty itself. (Since our literacy rates are so low, what’s the chance anyone will be able to read it, anyway?).

        • Agree that the curriculum is tilted towards facilitating a woke race based narrative but for example schools can teach history like the musket wars, it’s just not required (which I grant is an huge incentive on busy schools).

          Perhaps a bigger issue as I understand it, is that after Māori arrival, the entirety of pre-colonial history is not required either. Arguably the curriculum incentivises a particular view of colonial history, but it virtually erases most of Māori history.

  5. What is the percentage in terms of gender identity?
    I have worked for feminist bosses who “had” bigger (and probably more) balls that cis males, not to speak of modern cis males who generally lacks testosterone on top of balls.

  6. Being Maori I strangely feel more sorry for poor pakeha people than I do for my own! I came across a homeless indian man the other week and I was shocked because I naïvely thought that only the affluent Indian (asian) person was permitted to enter our country?

    The reason IMO that I feel sorry more for poor pakeha people than I do for poor maori people is because I have had more of my own rip and hurt me than I have experienced with pakeha people.

    I am aware that Maori commit the majority harm against Maori than they do against other groups. Its this symbiosis relationship of being a victim and a perpetrator. Without excusing this abhorrent behavior this is prevalent to all oppressed societies the African Americans are a prime example.

    I have witness Maori people psychically attacking pakeha people because in that moment they could. I have witness Maori bigotry towards Pakeha people which I have shamefully been guilty of as well. The poor pakeha person is in the same boat as the poor Maori, Pacific Islander, Indian, other groups and yes I agree that its a class issue more than racial that goes beyond the boundaries of identity.

    • “The poor pakeha person is in the same boat as the poor Maori, Pacific Islander, Indian, other groups and yes I agree that its a class issue more than racial that goes beyond the boundaries of identity.”

      @Stephen I agree 100%, remarkably twice (CT’s article) in as many days.

  7. Treasury is controlled by the paternalistic types and the political head is a man. A man!
    Give Carmel a break, she continues to be oppressed by male paternalism.
    Allow her to break free of the restrictive heterosexual male dominance.

  8. Seems weird that those that kill now don’t get prison sentences but calling your probation officer names is a prison sentence.

    Woke justice?

    Regan Robson-Khan avoids jail after assault outside bar that put victim in coma

    Disbelief from a Gisborne family, after an elderly man’s killer was sentenced to home detention

    Killing someone while protecting your drug stash is ok.
    Woman found guilty of killing partner sentenced to home detention

    But Jail sentence for insults.

    Stuff reported in February that Arps sent text messages to his probation officers, calling them “worthless”, “fat”, “piss-weak” and “violently disgusting”.

    Government seem to be hypocrites when they fund poetry that says they want to F.,k up white people but jail white supremacists for mild insults to probation officers and let Samsudeen run around with two security guards as he says he’s going to kill. If we can only get it a bit more consistent with the war on race!

    Meanwhile if you threaten to kill the PM, but are drunk, all ok.
    Conviction overturned for man who sent death threats to Jacinda Ardern

    In woke land you want to be on drugs and drunk as it seems to radically reduce your penalty for killing someone and other crimes – likewise political beliefs and identity seem to be creating a two tier justice system.

  9. ‘takes that lens of woke identity and has instead manufactured our first ‘Purity of Identity’ journalism.’


This is woke-washing and indicative of a purity spiral. To paraphrase Rob Henderson expect them to discard even more values in word, (including those they personally hold dear in practice), to maintain top-dog status.

    In respect of material wellbeing and the failure of journalism, here’s some charts showing number and percentages of US media articles containing common or appropriated woke (critical social justice) terms over the years. (The author refines his analysis as the thread continues). 

    Recall that Occupy Wall Street, arguably the high water mark of the economic left challenge to the excesses of neoliberalism was end of 2011. Occupy Wall Street was itself a response to the excesses that led to the GFC and subsequent bank bailouts. Now it’s déjà vu all over again.

    What determines media attention, where does it sit between manufactured consent and popular zeitgeist?

    Whatever the faux empathy paraded, most of todays woke reporting is a meta discourse between and for the social and cultural elites of neoliberalism. It is narcissistic status games with terrible downstream consequences for the multiracial working class.

    Noam Chomsky:

    Rob Henderson:


  10. Wrote to Carmel once and only once, (once was enough to learn how much she doesn’t care)
    I mentioned all the disability issues I had been facing and the lack of support from the system.
    After several months I got a letter back which was a regurgitation of every failed attempt at help I had tried as if that was helping me.
    Was hoping for some form of redress after 9 years of the selfish National party thinking but now, it was a continuation of the same.
    Labour did a review into poverty and then did nothing with the results.
    It seems everything Labour has done is just window dressing, reviews, working groups, positions of hierarchy but now actual work on the front line itself. Big on slogans and thats about it.
    I dont even recognise who Labour is anymore, they sure arent the working mans party anymore and more closely represent National voter interests.
    The other thing, poverty just never makes it into the mainstream media anymore as if not talking about it makes it go away.

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