Tory Whanau highlights why Woke Identity Politics over class fails the Left


The Left split from Tory Whanau’s wayward Wellington City Council

Wellington Mayor Tory Whanau has gone from being the hero of the progressive left in Wellington to being seen as the cause of further dysfunction and chaos. And that’s just the view of people on her own political side.

The former Green Party Chief of Staff, who had turned into a corporate lobbyist, and then Mayor of Wellington, had a tough time during the first half of her term in power. But at least she was able to count on the support of the Green and Labour councillors, who pledged to vote for all her initiatives. This meant she had a working majority to get a limited number of things done.

Now, she is burning off that support, and it could have significant consequences for the city and for the shape of local government politics.

Why the Left has turned against Whanau

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The three most leftwing Wellington City Councillors – Ben McNulty, Nureddin Abdurahman, and Nīkau Wi Neera – have announced that they have lost faith in the Mayor. As a result, they have pulled out of the Green-Labour bloc on the council, which has until now meant Whanau could pass anything she wanted. But now the three dissidents will vote on an issue-by-issue basis, essentially as “Independents”. However, they say they will still be guided by the Labour and Green platforms upon which they are elected.

It’s the local government equivalent of Jim Anderton leaving the Fourth Labour Government in 1989 over the party’s neoliberal economic reforms. And just as Anderton resigned from his party, saying that Labour left him rather than he left Labour, the dissident leftwing councillors claim that Whanau and her supporters have moved considerably to the right and have been captured by the agendas of unelected council officials.


I have been a strident voice warning of the danger of middle class woke over reach into the Political Left.

I am a class leftist focused on Economic Justice, not Social Justice.

The true demarcation of power in a liberal democratic capitalist state is the 1% richest plus their 9% enablers vs the 90% rest of us, the moment you understand politics in those terms, you can become activated and engage politically for real change.

If all you have when you come to the table is a tribal affiliation to your gender, skin colour or genitalia, then what use are you to the movement?

I have been arguing for some time now that the extremes of middle class woke identity politics leads to splintered resistance because pure temple politics alienates.

All the woke have managed to do since 2016 is provide the right with culture war ammunition for culture war battles that we can’t win!

I’ve argued we need broad church solidarity based on the economic common good between us, not critical race and critical gender theory esoteric virtue signals fuelled by outrage olympics on social media.

For the woke the win is diversity as opposed to policy or class solidarity and no where is that better represented than the terrible meltdown in Wellington over Mayor Tory Whanau.

Tory represents all that is shallow with Identity Politics.  All that matters is that she is a Māori Woman, NOT what her politics are on crucial policy decisions.

Her decision to sell the Wellington Airport is gasp inducing in its right wing implications and outcomes, and that’s because the woke are a middle class movement with one foot on the Wellington property market and they benefit from the same speculative dynamics as the Right.

The Woke are great at mummy blogger free the nipple radical vegan feminist cycling rally protests, not so good at challenging the hegemonic structures of neoliberalism.

The jaw dropping part about the Wellington meltdown is that those left wing males who have revolted and threatened the process are now being accused of misogyny for criticising Tory in the manner they have…

He explains that Whanau’s allies on council are accusing the three men of “grandstanding” and “misogyny,” an accusation that MacManus says is “a ridiculous thing to suggest.” Therefore, it now seems that the fiasco is descending into a culture war, which doesn’t normally serve the political left well, just creating more bitterness.

…that’s right.

If you disagree with Tory selling the Airport shares, you are a misogynist who hates Māori.

How Absolutely Positively Wellington!

When Identity is the only lens, you miss the whole picture.

Remember when Carmel Sepuloni became Deputy?

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.

Instead of looking at her pitiful performance as Welfare Minister during her time in power, which was appalling remember, instead of any of that critical examination of how little Labour had done for beneficiaries, the focus was #BossBabe because Identity is the only cultural currency that matters.

This celebration of Identity above all else is warping our news media but 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.

Identity Politics on the other hand is a further atomisation of the group as we endlessly navel gaze and replace subjective feelings for reasoned logic because reasoned logic is heteronormative white cis male privilege.

Left Universalism is our solution and when you have an Identity Politics Mayor like Tory passing policy that is little more than free market mythology, then what was the point of electing her in the first place?

The shallowness of the woke clique has never been so evident as it is in this Wellington Meltdown.




  1. Yes. And the most crucial thing is the awful impact which this shallow trivialising of life-changing circs into being misogynistic or racist issues, is having on our children who hold the future in their hands, and who are the future, and who have had zilch choice in what is thrust upon them. Central government is just as bad as the loopy WCC identity politicians and the Greens and Labour incubated much of it.

  2. I am no fan of Tory Whanau but I don’t think that Ben McNulty, Nureddin Abdurahman, and Nīkau Wi Neera have any great claim to working for the people of Wellington either.

    That city council is infected with people who see it as a stepping stone to central government so will chase the agendas of their chosen political party rather then giving a damn about those that live here.

    • Poor quality candidates winning on the green/labour ticket has been the reality for Wellington in past decades, but Wellington deserves it as they vote only Greens/labour.

      Martyn I totally agree with you today.

      • Yes why the people of Wellington vote for the left is incredibly difficult to fathom,history shows that it’s a mistake.

  3. Notable that to this point green and Labour affiliated council members had voted as a bloc on issues -representing party over rate payers who voted for them.
    Official party affiliation should not be allowed in local councils.

    • Agreed. I expect my local councillor to assess everything on a case by case basis and vote accordingly – and in my local council that’s roughly what happens – there are so many issues at local body level where there is no need to bring political ideology to the table I find it absurd that it happens at all – but then my council is relatively small and powerless compared to Wellington

  4. Tory has been a disappointment alright. It happens in Local Govt. around the country–elected Councillors often cave in to the long time staffers–Engineers, Admins, Finance and the business lobby rather than standing by their original kaupapa. Elected members have to be firm with staff, “thanks for the advice but we will be doing this…”

    Tory may have been leaned on too “do our bidding or we will dump more shit on you…” and she may just not have the ability to fight.

    You have some class understanding or you do not when it comes down to it. People like Bruce Jesson and Mike Lee at Auckland Council before Supercity did–when you say don’t sell the assets–then don’t bloody sell them.

  5. Marama and the Greens may have misstepped politicising her unfortunate cancer as something apparently disproportionately affecting specific ethnicities and been better advised raising the issue directly with God.

  6. I am a class leftist focused on Economic Justice, not Social Justice.

    Do you really think the two are mutually exclusive?

    Economic justice leads to social justice – not necessarily the other way. But the two are highly interactive, which is why I am such a supporter of Universal Basic Income (UBI). I am also painfully aware that the conservative (and to a lesser degree, liberal) right are strongly against ANY form of benefit or income/wealth redistribution because it goes against their concepts of social and economic justice – but it doesn’t mean that the idea is bunk.

    But you are right that woke thinking is also anti-right because the holds the ringpieces to account for their many and varied injustices against the silent majority.

    • Yes, it is not either or. Class left focused economic justice is primary though in my and many others view.

      Any class left activists worthy of the name supports other oppressed groups within the working class, while not losing sight of the main enemy–Capital and Finance Capital.

      Martyn’s 3 tiers are a good analysis. 90%/9%/1%. There are sub categories of course in the 90% from lumpen proletariat to upper middle class etc. but it is pretty obvious who is who if you check out the money. The bottom 50% in this country have barely 5% of the wealth.

      • Tiger – just thought I’d pop in and say I’m out of here. Tired of being censored, particularly when I respectfully and moderately point out the flaws in Bradbury’s bonnet bees. Doubt if this will get through either, but I’m not going to Trotter’s blog to do this – yet.

        • Good luck surgeon. I don’t seem to get censored here for content, just my early morning posts generally don’t appear until the late afternoon unlike most others, they are time tagged so you can see it.

          Chris Trotter has comprehensively “jumped the shark” unfortunately, so use your time for something more interesting. Paul Buchanan’s Kiwi Politico is pretty straight up, even if more of an academic forum.

  7. Mayor Tory Whanau and her defenders are a joke that just keep on giving.

    It will be interesting to see how much damage her antics and poor leadership will have on future Green/left support.

    As for the class war, the focus should be on helping all low to middle income earners and not just the ones with dependent kids .

  8. There should be no political ‘Local Govt’!!! Only “Managers of Ratepayers money according to a list of essential requirements to keep a city functioning.” Way too many politics in a country of 5 million! It’s a fuck up!

    • Considering voter turnout for WCC election in 2022 was less than 50%, one could question whether the Council actually has a public mandate to operate.

      We should do away with local and regional Councils and the expense it costs to house and fund them and allow Government to locally govern.

  9. Yes Tiger, the ‘ long term’ staffers run council’s.
    At least the WTNG Mayor has had a good time networking in the Wellington hospitality scene. Doing her bit for the local economy.

  10. How about we debate this:
    Can Wellington actually be fixed, what with the limited amount of ratepayers supplying finite money? And if there is enough money (which is highly doubtful), is there even enough expertise to fix that city? I think those three woke councilors gave us the answer nobody wants to hear from a city councilor: “..they say they will still be guided by the Labour and Green platforms upon which they are elected.” And finally, is it even worth for our country as a whole to invest so much emotion, so much effort and so much precious money in that city? You always hear Ra Ra Wellington, Yay Wellingtoooon…really??? Let’s be honest, maybe once it was great, now it’s a boring dump with a fucked up inner city! I spent enough time there so I know.

  11. We need Dharleen Tana back ASAP to right the wobbly Green ship which has been outed for it’s woke sanctimonious hypocracy…while ruining businesses by getting rid of parking for empty bikelanes they were simultaneously angling for private close carparks for Greentard lefty luvvy MPs

  12. Is it misogynistic to point out that the 1990’s huge jump in poverty was caused by Ruth Richardson showing how tough she was to break a glass ceiling?

    • No. But Ruth soiled the whole concept of motherhood by proclaiming it the Mother of all Budgets, while strutting around like a pugnacious dwarfish brain-damaged boxer, IMHO.

    • No and the current incarnation is a fuck site worse .Watch that white poverty level ramp up over the next two years .The Maori rate wont get much worse because the poor buggers are already well and truly fucked over .

    • ” Ruth Richardson showing how tough she was to break a glass ceiling? ”

      That had nothing to do with it. She had zero sympathy for women’s issues and certainly did not see herself as a standard-bearer for the cause.

      She was driven by her goal to complete the neo liberal revolution and dismantle the union movement while removing benefits and introducing more draconian legislation.

      Just like Thatcher except not the PM.

  13. I wouldn’t vote for Tory Whanau. Her three predecessors were just as bad. The Absolutely Delusionaly Council has failed to charge the appropriate rates for many years. Whanau is truly hopeless but her predecessors for at least 15 years were no better or worse. Wellingtonians (so intellectually superior and wonderful) deserve what they have consistently voted for.

  14. Comrade, you have a point about dismissal of those who don’t get the correct terminology right. Speaking our great correct story carries all before it. Your attacking these identity politickers doesn’t help us a bit. Just reveals your sore points in life.

    If you’re a strong Leftist don’t expect a happy home-life. It doesn’t work like that. The most distinctive feature of us men is to be useful for wider society. We diminish otherwise.

  15. The real problem with the left is shown by this, and the speed limit thread, getting twice as many comments than the Waatea news column.

  16. Tory Whanau is a perfect example of why we should keep the left out of politics they simply don’t possess the skills required.

  17. wokeness is anathema to conservatism and I whole heartedly support it. identity politics runs in parallel to challenging the status quo. if you’re prepared to be sidelined for your identity, what hope do you have of taking any part in justice.

  18. I think we’re conflating here – these people aren’t left, let alone Tory Whanau. Like her name suggests, they’re captured by the status quo and support “pet” injustices for effect. 100% Bomber, where are all the radicals?

  19. Tory Whanau is about as progressive as a slug after eating Yates Blitzem. Why do we keep saying they are on the left? Is that because we’re living in a capitalist system that is so far right, that any thought for others is labeled communist? It’s all fucked.

  20. the fossil fueled boom is starting to wane – sound familiar?

    A larger population created a greater demand for food and consumer goods. The discovery of new gold mines in Brazil had led to a general rise in prices throughout the West from about 1730, indicating a prosperous economic situation. From about 1770, this trend slackened, and economic crises, provoking alarm and even revolt, became frequent. Arguments for social reform began to be advanced. The philosophes—intellectuals whose writings inspired these arguments—were certainly influenced by 17th-century theorists such as René Descartes, Benedict de Spinoza and John Locke, but they came to very different conclusions about political, social, and economic matters. A revolution seemed necessary to apply the ideas of Montesquieu, Voltaire, or Jean-Jacques Rousseau. This Enlightenment was spread among the educated classes by the many “societies of thought” that were founded at that time: masonic lodges, agricultural societies, and reading rooms.


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